July 25, 2019

For More Information Contact Brian Stanley, environmental health manager, Cumberland Plateau Health District, 276-415-3370

(LEBANON, Va.) – To avoid rabies, avoid approaching or handling wild animals. This is one of several recommendations from the Virginia Department of Health to avoid spreading rabies among people and pets.

Any mammal can be infected with rabies. Wild animals frequently diagnosed with rabies include raccoons, skunks and foxes. Cats are the most common domestic animal diagnosed with rabies.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Once symptoms in humans develop, the infection is usually fatal. Administering preventive treatment following an exposure and before symptoms develop is critical in preventing disease and death. “It’s important to seek medical attention promptly after a possible exposure,” said Sue Cantrell, M.D., director of the Cumberland Plateau Health District.

VDH and the health district strongly advises that people take these steps to protect family members and pets from rabies:

  • Vaccinate your dogs, cats and ferrets and keep their vaccinations up to date;
  • 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/epidemiology/DEE/Rabies and www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/animal-contact-human-health/?tab=3 or call the Russell County Health Department at 276-889-7621.

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