A raccoon tested positive for rabies after an encounter with a Virginia resident's pet.

Last week in Staunton, Virginia, a resident’s pet encountered a raccoon suspected to have rabies. The raccoon tested positive for the disease, which prompted the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to issue a warning. Anyone who comes into contact with the saliva of a raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat should immediately seek medical help.  

“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. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye or mouth.” —Virginia Department of Health 

Here’s what the VDH advises to prevent the spread of rabies:

  • Have your pets vaccinated and keep vaccinations up-to-date (dogs, cats, ferrets, selected livestock).
  • Don’t approach wild animals!
  • Don’t leave pet food or garbage outside (it might attract wild animals).
  • Don’t keep wild animals as pets (including stray cats and dogs).
  • Don’t feed wild animals or strays.
  • Limit potential exposure by keeping pets on your property or on a leash.

We want to make sure we keep our lovely pets safe and get potentially rabid wild animals the help they need. So, if you suspect that your pet was exposed to a rabid animal or you find a potentially rabid wild animal, make sure to immediately contact your local health or animal control department.