High number of rabies cases in NRV prompts health department warning

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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) A skunk located near Sunset Cemetery in Christiansburg is the 11th animal this year to test positive for rabies in the New River Health District, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Health.

The rabid skunk was located October 6, according to a health department spokesperson. The animal is one of six that have tested positive for rabies in Montgomery County this year, the health department spokesperson said.

Because so many rabid animals have been found in relative close proximity, health department leaders are encouraging Montgomery County pet owners to get their animals vaccinated.

Here is the full news release WDBJ7 received from the Virginia Department of Health

- All residents should vaccinate pets and take precautions to help prevent the spread of rabies -

(CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.) – A skunk collected on Friday, October 6 in the neighborhood next to Sunset Cemetery in Christiansburg has tested positive for rabies, according to the New River Health District and the Virginia Department of Health.

This is the third confirmed case of animal rabies in Christiansburg in the last three months. Two other skunks found in the vicinity of Park Street in August and September also were rabid. In each incident a domestic animal was reportedly exposed to the rabid animal.

This marks the sixth confirmed case of animal rabies in Montgomery County and the 11th in the New River Health District this year.

Due to the relative proximity and timing of these cases in Christiansburg, the New River Health District reminds everyone, especially pet owners, of the risks of rabies.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is almost always fatal, unless preventive treatment is administered before symptoms develop. “It is important to keep your pets properly vaccinated and to seek medical attention promptly if you or your pet are exposed,” said Noelle Bissell, M.D., director for the New River Health District.

If you or your pet are bitten by a wild or stray animal, wash the wound thoroughly with warm soap and water and contact your private physician and the local health department immediately.

In addition to keeping your pets vaccinated, the New River Health District strongly advises that people take these steps to protect family members and pets from rabies:
· 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 authority;
· Eliminate outdoor food sources from around the home;
o Feed pets indoors;
o Keep trash in covered, vermin-proof containers; and
· Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control or call the Montgomery County Health Department at 540-585-3300.