Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 17, 2014

Rabid skunk reported near Tazewell-Russell County line

WARDELL — A skunk collected recently from the Wardell area of Russell County near the Russell-Tazewell County line near Southwest Virginia Community College has tested positive for rabies.

 This is the first confirmed case of animal rabies in Russell County and in the Cumberland Plateau Health District this year, health officials said.

No known human exposures have been connected to this skunk, which was collected May 8. Livestock have been reported as being exposed, health officials said.

 Anyone who may have been exposed to a suspected rabid animal who has pets that may have been exposed to a suspected rabid animal, or knows of any possible exposures should immediately notify the Russell County Health Department at 276-889-7621, Tazewell County Health Department at 276-988-5585, Russell County Animal Control at 276-889-8098 or the Tazewell County Animal Control at 276-988-1160.

The best way to prevent the spread of rabies is to vaccinate your dogs and cats, plus ferrets and livestock and keep those vaccinations up to date, health officials said. Virginia law requires that all dogs and cats 4 months of age and older be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian, and that vaccinations be kept current.

The rabies virus is found mainly in the saliva and brain tissue of infected animals. It is most often transmitted when an infected animal bites another animal or human and the saliva gets into the wound.

“Rabies can be prevented in humans who have been exposed to the virus with appropriate post-exposure treatment, but once symptoms develop it is almost always fatal,” said Melody Counts, M.D., director for the Cumberland Plateau Health District. “We must begin treatment immediately if people have been exposed.”

Managing rabies exposures in pets or other animals varies depending on the species of animal and its vaccination history. Prompt notification is also critical to help limit the spread of the disease among animals.

In addition to vaccination, the Cumberland Plateau 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 agency.

• Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.

•Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

For more information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epi/rabies.

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