The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District (RRHD) issues the following alert: a skunk which bit a human on Saturday, May 4, has been confirmed as positive for rabies. The skunk was removed near Shenandoah National Park in Madison County.
The Health Department is notifying the public in case anyone – or any pets – may have had contact on or shortly before Saturday, May 4 with a skunk in the area of the Whiteoak Canyon Park Boundary parking lot. If there has been any contact/exposure between humans and/or domestic animals with this skunk (or any wild or domestic animal behaving abnormally), please report this to Madison Animal Control (540-948-7042) and the Madison Health Department (540-948-5481).
Any exposed/potentially exposed individuals should seek medical advice promptly to evaluate whether rabies prevention medication is needed. Consult your veterinarian if your pet was exposed/possibly exposed to a potentially rabid animal, such as a fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, etc.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It is preventable in animals through vaccinations, but is fatal to both animals and humans if left untreated. Exposure to rabies is considered anytime there is a bite or scratch, or other circumstance where saliva or Central Nervous System tissue from a rabid or potentially rabid animal enters an open, fresh wound or comes in contact with a mucous membrane by entering the eye, mouth, or nose. Skunk spray, a pungent mix of sulfur-based compounds, does not transmit the rabies virus.
Virginia requires owners of dogs and cats to maintain current rabies vaccinations for animals four months old and older. Residents should not approach or touch wild animals or unknown domestic animals, and should report any abnormal behavior involving these animals. All animal bites and rabies exposures (from both wild and domestic animals) must be reported to Madison County Animal Control at 540-948-7042. To prevent the spread of rabies:
• AVOID contact with wild animals and domestic animals you do not know.
• REPORT unusual acting animals.
• VACCINATE all dogs, cats and ferrets and keep their vaccinations current.
• CALL your doctor and the local health department if you are exposed, or call your veterinarian and local animal control if your pet is exposed.
Vaccinating domestic animals (dogs and cats) also protects people from getting rabies. If the domestic animal population is properly vaccinated, it breaks the transmission cycle of a wild animal infecting a domestic animal (pet), and that animal infecting the pet owner.
While intentions are good, please do not put food out for stray or feral (wild domestic) animals. This will bring domestic and wild animals into close contact where transmission of the rabies virus is more likely to occur. If you have pets that live outside, feed and water them in a manner that does not attract wild animals.
For more information, or if you have questions about a possible exposure, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/ or contact Madison Health Department at 540-948-5481.
The Rappahannock Rapidan Health District serves residents in Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper Madison and Orange counties. For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax/.