February 3, 2023
Media Contact: Stafford Health Department, Environmental Health Division, (540) 288-9018
ANIMAL RABIES CASE CONFIRMED IN 400 BLOCK OF WIDEWATER ROAD IN STAFFORD COUNTY
On February 3, 2023, the Stafford County Health Department confirmed that a gray and white colored, tabby cat collected on Jan 30, 2023 from the 400 block of Widewater Road in Stafford County was positive for rabies. The cat was under confinement with Stafford Animal Control when it became aggressive. There were confirmed human exposures through bites or scratches from the cat. These individuals were advised to obtain rabies post exposure preventive treatment from the local hospital Emergency Department to prevent development of human rabies.
The Health Department is notifying the public in case any people or pets may have had contact with this cat. Any individuals who were exposed/potentially exposed to this cat should seek medical advice promptly from their healthcare provider to evaluate whether rabies prevention medication is needed. Individuals may also contact the Stafford County Environmental Health Office at 540-288-9018.
Likewise, if your pet was exposed/possibly exposed to this rabid cat, or any potentially rabid animal, please consult your veterinarian promptly. In addition, please notify Stafford Animal Control (540-658-7387) and the Stafford County Environmental Health Department (540-288-9018). On weekends or after hours, please call the Virginia Department of Health 24-hour answering service at 866-531-3068 and ask for the staff member on call for the Rappahannock Area Health District.
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is preventable in animals through vaccinations but is fatal to both animals and humans if not treated immediately after exposure. Exposure to rabies is considered any time a bite, scratch or other circumstance where saliva or central nervous system tissue from a rabid or potentially rabid animal enters an open, fresh wound or comes in contact with a mucous membrane by entering a person’s eye, mouth, or nose.
The Code of Virginia requires dog and cat owners to maintain current rabies vaccinations for animals four months old and older. Rabies vaccinations protect not only the animal, but also people, from getting rabies.
In addition, residents should not approach or touch wild animals or unknown domestic animals and report any abnormal behavior involving these animals. All animal bites and rabies exposures (from wild and domestic animals) must be reported to Stafford County Animal Control at (540) 658-7387.
To help prevent the spread of rabies, everyone should:
- AVOID contact with wild animals and domestic animals you do not know.
- REPORT unusual acting animals to Stafford County Animal Control.
- VACCINATE all your dogs, cats and ferrets and keep their vaccinations current.
- CALL your doctor and the local health department if you are exposed, or your veterinarian and local animal control if your pet is exposed.
While intentions are good, the health department discourages individuals from feeding stray or feral (wild domestic) animals. This will bring domestic and wild animals into close contact where transmission of the rabies virus may occur. If you have pets living outside, feed and water them in a manner that does not attract wild animals.