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Rabies alert issued

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Carroll County has had two confirmed cases of rabies during the past week.

The Carroll County Health Department investigated a May 22 report of a possible rabid fox in the north end of Hillsville.

A local family found a dead fox in the backyard and their family dog had an unexplained wound on its ear. The fox was collected and sent to the state lab where it tested positive for rabies.

The dog was current on rabies vaccinations and only needed a booster shot for continued protection, said Kristina Webb, environmental health specialist.

The dog will be observed at its home for 45 days. Had there not been a current vaccination for the dog, state law requires either euthanasia or a six-month strict isolation with no contact, Webb said.

On Tuesday, the health department received another report of a dog fighting with a raccoon on Old Pipers Gap Road in Cana.

The raccoon was shot and then sent to the state lab where it was tested positive for rabies on Wednesday. This dog did not have a current rabies vaccination.

The first positive rabies case of 2011 in Carroll County occurred in Fancy Gap in April.

The Virginia Department of Health said it has documented 15 rabies cases so far this year in the New River Valley, equal to the total for the region all of last year.

“Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it,” according to Dr. D. Craig Smith, health director for the Mount Rogers Health District.

Although rabies can occur at any point during the year, as warmer weather approaches, there will be increased activity of wildlife and the risk of exposure to rabies.

“Animals that are sick with rabies shed the virus in their saliva, so any animal bite should be taken seriously,” Smith said.

“If an animal bites you, wash the wound immediately with soap and water. Call your physician, local health department or animal control agency immediately. Bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes especially have a high risk of transmitting rabies. No wildlife should be taken in as a pet.”

To limit potential exposure to rabies, don’t keep garbage or pet food outdoors that can attract wildlife, and never approach a stray or sick acting animal, the health district said. Call a wildlife professional or an animal control officer and enjoy wildlife from a distance.

“I cannot emphasize enough how very important it is that you keep your pet’s rabies vaccine up to date,” said Environmental Health Manager Scott Honaker.

 

For information about rabies protection or to discuss possible exposures, contact the Carroll County Health department at (276) 730-3180. Information is online at www.vdh.state.va.us/epi/rabiesf.htm.