Two people exposed to rabies in Grayson

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Health district reports six confirmed rabies cases in area so far in 2014.

By Staff Reports

The Mount Rogers Health District reports there have been six confirmed cases of rabies in the Twin County area this year, through Sept. 28.

That includes an incident last week, in which two Grayson County residents were exposed to a single rabid stray cat.

The cat was captured, tested for rabies and the Grayson County Health Department received lab confirmation of rabies Sept. 23, according to a statement from the health district.

Grayson County Animal Control has been notified that there are other cats in this non-feral, domestic stray population, and residents of the area are being contacted to determine whether anyone else was exposed.

Both biting incidents occurred in the area of North Independence Avenue (Route 21), just north of the town of Independence. Citing confidentiality rules, a district spokesman would not give the age or gender of the two bite victims, nor say if they were related.

Scott Honaker, district environmental health manager for Mount Rogers, said “the possibility of people being exposed to this deadly disease increases when there are stray animals in a community, and potential exposures are even more likely if people approach or feed” stray or wild animals.

Honaker reported that this year’s rabies cases in Grayson involved one cat, one fox and one raccoon. Carroll County’s cases involved two skunks and one raccoon. There were no cases reported in Galax.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system. Any animal bite should be taken seriously.

The disease is almost always fatal, but there is a vaccine to prevent it when a bite occurs.

If you are bitten, wash the wound immediately with soap and water. Call your physician, local health department or animal control agency immediately.

For questions about rabies protection or possible exposures, contact the Mount Rogers Health District at (276) 781-7450 or your local health department. For information, visit the Virginia Department of Health’s Rabies Control and Prevention website at www.vdh.state.va.us/epi/rabiesf.htm/.