–Citizens asked to report any possible human or animal contact with any suspected rabid animal.–

August 7, 2013

(RUSSELL COUNTY, Va.) – A fox collected July 31, 2013, on South 71 in the Castlewood area of Russell County has tested positive for rabies. This is the fifth confirmed case of animal rabies in Russell County and in the Cumberland Plateau Health District this year.

“This year we have seen an increase of confirmed wild animal rabies cases in Russell County,” said Brian Stanley, environmental health manager for the Cumberland Plateau Health District. “The location of this rabid fox is concerning due to its location being further southwest than the northeastern portion of Russell County where we are used to seeing rabid animals in the past.” Confirmed rabid animals have also been identified in the Belfast and the Poor Farm areas of Russell County this year.

Anyone who may have been exposed to a suspected rabid animal, who has pets that may have been exposed to a suspected rabid animal or who knows of any possible exposures should immediately notify the Russell County Health Department at 276-889-7621 or Russell County Animal Control at

The rabies virus is found mainly in the saliva and brain tissue of infected animals. It is most often transmitted when an infected animal bites another animal or human and the saliva gets into the wound.

“Rabies can be prevented in humans who have been exposed to the virus with appropriate post-exposure treatment, but once symptoms develop it is almost always fatal,” said Melody Counts, M.D., director for the Cumberland Plateau Health District. “We must begin treatment immediately if people have been exposed.”

“The best way to prevent the spread of rabies is to vaccinate your dogs and cats, plus ferrets and livestock, and keep those vaccinations up to date,” said Brian Stanley. Virginia law requires that all dogs and cats four months of age and older are vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian, and that vaccinations are kept current.

Managing rabies exposures in pets or other animals varies depending on the species of animal and its vaccination history. Prompt notification also is critical to help limit the spread of the disease among animals.

In addition to vaccination, the Cumberland Plateau Health District strongly advises that people take these steps to protect family members and pets from rabies:

  • Avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs;
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs;
  • Report stray animals to your local animal control agency;
  • Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home; and
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epi/rabies or call the Russell County Health Department at 276-889-7621.