BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — On Thursday afternoon, the Central Virginia Health District reported that a fox tested positive for rabies after it bit a person on Stone Mountain Road in Bedford County.

According to the health district, the person who was bitten will receive medical treatment to prevent rabies — which is highly successful when the treatment begins soon after exposure — and “is expected to be fine.”

Health officials say this incident serves as a reminder that rabies is present among wild animals in the area.

Rabies is reportedly caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system, with the most common source of exposure being a bite from a rabid animal, but it can also be transmitted if a rabid animal’s saliva comes into contact with your mouth, eyes, nose, or open wounds.

On top of that, if proper medical care is not provided following exposure to the virus, rabies can be lethal, the health district says.

As a result, you are urged to take some simple measures to protect yourself and your domestic animals from rabies.

“Pet owners should keep their pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Virginia law requires that all dogs
and cats four months of age and older be vaccinated for rabies by a licensed veterinarian, and that vaccinations be kept current,” the Central Virginia Health District stated. “It is important to avoid contact with wild or stray animals, and parents should be sure that their children are taught to not touch, pet or otherwise handle unknown animals.”

Health officials also offered the following tips to prevent rabies in people and pets:

  • Do not feed stray animals.
    • Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks.
    • Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
  • Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals, as well as unfamiliar pets.
  • Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals. If you have concerns about sick or injured wildlife, you are asked to contact a licensed wildlife rehabber.
  • Keep wild animals out of homes by capping chimneys with screens; blocking openings in attics, cellars, and porches; and making sure trash cans have tight fitting lids.
  • Do not try to trap or handle stray and wild animals.
    • If you find a bat indoors that may have had contact with someone, do not release it. Instead, you should contact your local animal control officer or health department to determine whether the animal should be picked up and tested for rabies.
  • If you are bitten by a wild or stray animal, don’t panic. All you need to do is thoroughly wash the wound(s) with warm, soapy water and contact animal control, your doctor, or the health department for further advice.