Prince William Health District Warns of Rabies Concerns

Woodbridge and Nokesville Areas Affected

April 4, 2014

In order to protect the health of the residents and visitors, the Prince William Health District (PWHD) is issuing a notice about a cat that has been found with rabies in the Woodbridge area, and a general notice to Nokesville area residents about an increase in wildlife found with rabies.

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.

Woodbridge Area Notice: Cat with Rabies Found near Forest Glen Road:

A cat found Monday, March 31 near Forest Glen Road in Woodbridge has tested positive for rabies. The adult cat has short gray and white fur. PWHD asks anyone who may have come in contact with a cat acting strangely in or around this area to call the health district at 703-792-5363 or the Prince William Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500.

To protect pets and their owners from rabies, Virginia law requires that all dogs and cats four months of age and older be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian, and that vaccinations be kept current.

The Prince William Health District is reminding the public to avoid contact with bats, feral cats, stray dogs and wild animals, particularly in the area where the sick cat was found. See additional precautions below.

Notice to the Nokesville Area about Increase in Rabies in Wild/Stray Animals:

PWHD’s environmental health and communicable disease programs have been closely monitoring the number of rabid animal reports in the Nokesville area. In the past several months, PWHD has detected an increase in wildlife confirmed to be rabid in that area.

Throughout the health district, 11 animals have been confirmed rabid from July 2013 to the present. Of those 11 animals, four raccoons and one skunk were from Nokesville. All five of these animals were caught, euthanized and tested positive for rabies after altercations with domestic animals. Although rabies is common in wildlife throughout Virginia, it is important to monitor for these occasional increases and reinforce awareness in the community about rabies prevention and personal protection.

The Prince William Health District is reminding the public to avoid contact with wild animals, bats, feral cats and stray dogs.

Additional Steps to Protect Against Rabies Exposure:

  • Do not feed stray animals. Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
  • Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies and their shots are up-to-date. By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and pets they are not familiar with.
  • Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals.
  • Keep wild animals out of homes by capping chimneys with screens and blocking openings in attics, cellars and porches. Ensure trash cans have tight fitting lids.
  • If you observe any stray animals in the area, please contact the Prince William County Animal Control Division for assistance at 703-792-6500. Please do not try to trap or handle stray and wild animals.
  • If a bat is found indoors and may have had contact with someone, do not release it. Please call the Prince William County Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500, to determine if the animal should be picked up and tested for rabies.

For additional information, visit or call the Prince William Health District at 703-792-5363 or the Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500. You can also follow the Health District on Twitter @PrinceWilliamHD or on Facebook at