Lord Fairfax Health District Warns Residents of Rabies Risk


For More Information, Contact VDH Risk Communications Manager Lorrie Andrew-Spear – Lorrie.Andrew-Spear@vdh.virginia.gov

Health Department Offers Tips to Stay Safe

(Winchester, Va.) — The Lord Fairfax Health District is notifying the public that on June 14, 2019, in the 500 Block of Warren Ave. in Front Royal, a fight between a raccoon and a dog led to the death of the raccoon, which subsequently tested positive for rabies.

“At this time, we are not aware of any contact between this raccoon and any humans, however should any person or domestic animal that might have come in contact with a raccoon in this area in the last two weeks should receive a medical evaluation immediately,” said Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene. “Truthfully, any contact with a raccoon is dangerous and should result in a medical evaluation, but this one is especially so, since the animal was known to have active rabies.”

The health district strongly advises that people take the following steps to protect families and pets from exposure to rabies:

  • Never approach or touch wild animals, especially any raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat, particularly if it behaves oddly or if it is seen in the daylight. These animals are the primary 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. Feral cats are especially dangerous.
  • 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 symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive a proper treatment soon after exposure.
  • If the attack is from a cat, dog, or ferret, try to identify or capture it if possible. Rabies can be ruled out if these animals are observed to remain healthy for 10 days.
  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies (even if they don’t go outdoors) and keep their shots up to date. Even working cats on farms should be vaccinated, for their safety and yours.
  • 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. (Electric collars work on cats, too.)
  • 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.
  • Cooperate when the health department calls for information. We do not take people’s pets from them. We only want to keep track of them so we can stop the spread of rabies.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or call the Warren County Health Department at 540-635-3159.

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/