June 18, 2018
For More Information, Contact
Environmental Health Manager Mason Allen
Lord Fairfax Health District – 540-722-3480
Health Officials Say Some Hikers May Need Treatment
(Winchester, Va.) — The Lord Fairfax Health District is notifying any hikers who spent the night of Thursday, June 7 through Friday, June 8, 2018 in the Pass Mountain Hut that it is possible that they may have been exposed to rabies. The Pass Mountain Hut is near Thornton Gap (U.S. Route 211/Luray/Sperryville, Va.). A bat was seen overhead in the shelter while people were sleeping in the hut. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, persons sleeping in a room with a bat may be at risk of rabies exposure, and should consider receiving post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), even if they have no bite marks. The overall risk in an open structure such as Pass Mountain Hut is not as great as in an enclosed room, but concerned individuals should seek evaluation in a hospital emergency room as soon as possible. When doing so, they should inform the staff that they were sleeping in a shelter where a bat was sighted.
Rabies is a deadly 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 left untreated. Exposure to rabies is considered any time there is a bite or 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 the eye, mouth, or nose. In addition, due to the high incidence of rabies in bats, anyone sleeping in a room with a bat may have been exposed.
The Health District advises people to take the following steps to prevent exposure to rabies:
- Avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
- Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
- Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep them up to date.
- Report stray animals to your local animal control agency.
- Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
- Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.
For more information, contact the Lord Fairfax Health District’s Frederick/Winchester Health Department at 540-722-3480.