Southside Health District Urges Residents to be Vigilant during Rabies Awareness Week

September 23, 2022
Media Contact:  Brookie Crawford,

Southside Health District Urges Residents to be Vigilant during Rabies Awareness Week

BOYDTON, Va. – September 28 is World Rabies Day, but Southside Health District encourages residents to be vigilant closer to home.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Rabies can be prevented in cats, dogs, ferrets and some livestock with a rabies vaccination. Rabies kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain tissue of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye or mouth.

“Rabies is 100% preventable if we all do our part,” said Southside Health District Director Scott J. Spillmann, MD, MPH. “It is important for people to be aware of their surroundings, pay attention to wildlife interactions with humans and pets, and be sure that your pets are vaccinated against rabies.”

Rabies is commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. It’s important to remember though that any mammal can get rabies and so it’s helpful to take some basic precautions to protect you and your pets from being infected.

Protect the ones you love! Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock and remember to keep their vaccinations up-to-date. A directory of veterinarians can be found at

If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, be sure to report it to your local health department or animal control authorities.

The Southside Health District reminds everyone to avoid contact with bats, feral cats, stray dogs and wild animals.

There are many ways you and your family can protect yourselves and your pets from rabies: appreciate wildlife from a distance, don’t adopt wild animals as pets, keep your pets on your own property, and keep garbage and pet food secure inside. For more information on rabies, visit the VDH website at

Rabies Awareness Week is September 26 to October 2.

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