ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Three cases of rabies are confirmed in animals in both Roanoke City and Roanoke County.
“One is out in SW Salem, one was in south Roanoke right on the Roanoke County line near Tanglewood and the other one is over in more towards SW Roanoke. So, they’re kind of close but they’re still spread out significantly, they’re miles and miles apart.”Gary Thomas – Environmental Health Co-Manager at Virginia Department of Health
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) said one incident involved a man in Roanoke County that was bit by a skunk. The homeowner was in his garage and once he opened the garage door he felt something hit his foot, looked down, and saw a skunk biting him. He tried fighting off the skunk, but the skunk would not let go. The homeowner then grabbed a pellet gun and put the animal down, then called animal control. The skunk tested positive for rabies. The Roanoke County man is currently receiving treatment for exposure.
The second incident involved a raccoon south of Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke County along the border with Franklin County. A passerby noticed a raccoon throwing its young from a tree, then climbing down the tree and attacking and killing its young. Animal control was notified, who arrived on the scene and put the raccoon down. The raccoon’s young were euthanized and tests came back positive on the mother raccoon. Later — after the authorities left the scene — two people came into contact with more of the raccoon’s young that were still in the tree. The two did not know about the prior incident. Those two people have been treated for exposure.
The third incident happened in southwest Roanoke, where a homeowner believed a bat around their house had come in contact with their dog. Animal Control was called, the bat was captured and tested positive for rabies. The homeowner’s dog is okay and was already rabies vaccinated before the incident.
“We would like people to make sure that their pets are vaccinated so that we can eliminate at least one source of concern with wildlife encounters,” said Gary Thomas, the Environmental Health Co-Manager at Virginia Department of Health.
VDH says all pet owners should get their pets vaccinated for rabies.
“Rabies is endemic in the state of Virginia,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be here, it’s here and will be here for the rest of, probably the rest of our lives.”
Thomas says if you see a wild animal behaving abnormally to call animal control and report it.
VDH reports that only animals in Virginia tested positive for rabies in 2016, the most recent year data was available. Over the previous five year average, the state saw an average of 537 cases per year.
Since 2009, VDH says only two humans have had cases of rabies in Virginia. It says an average of two human cases are reported each year.
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