Lord Fairfax Health District Warns Residents of Rabies Risk

July 3, 2018

For More Information, Contact
Lorrie Andrew-Spear, VDH-Northern Region Public Information Officer – 703-530-2627

Health Department Offers Tips to Stay Safe

(Winchester, Va.) — Within the past three weeks, two foxes captured within Winchester City limits have tested positive for rabies, according to the Lord Fairfax Health Department. “While the captured foxes pose no further threat, they may have infected animals in and around the city,” says Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene. “To prevent rabies, avoid interactions with wild animals, and keep your animals vaccinated.”

The Health Department strongly advises that people take the following steps to prevent families and pets from being exposed to rabies:

  • Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat, especially if it is behaving oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the main carriers of rabies in the eastern United States.
  • Avoid stray cats and dogs. Feral or unknown cats and dogs may also carry rabies. Report bites or scratches from these animals to your physician or the Health Department.
  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date.
  • Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs. Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
  • If one of your domestic animals is bitten or otherwise interacts with a wild animal, notify the local Health Department and animal control officer at once.

If you are bitten, scratched, or licked by any of these animals, seek medical attention immediately. Rabies is fatal to both animals and humans once contracted. Rabies can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccine and medication soon after exposure.

Finally, if in doubt, or if you have a question, call your local Health Department: Winchester/Frederick County – 540-722-3470; Clarke – 540-955-1033; Warren – 540-635-3159; Page – 540-743-6528, or Shenandoah – 540-459-3733.

Additional information on rabies is available from the Virginia Department of Health at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/.

The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.