CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The New River Health District is asking pet owners to make sure their animals are up to date on their vaccines after two foxes tested positive for rabies in the past week. It’s the fifth lab-confirmed case of animal rabies in Montgomery County, and the twelfth in the New River Health District this year.

On Saturday, Aug. 5th, Health Department officials said a fox was found in a neighborhood around Blake Drive in Christiansburg. It tested positive for rabies, becoming the second, in a matter of days, in that same area. A few days prior, another fox was found in the Dunlap Drive area, said Officials.

In both instances, officials said people were reportedly exposed to the animal. They’re asking anyone else who may have come in contact with either of them to call the Montgomery County Health Department at (540) 585-3300.

Because of how close together these cases were, both in timing and proximity, officials want to remind everyone, especially pet owners, about the risk of rabies.

Virginia law does require cats and dogs four months, and older, to have a current rabies vaccination.

“It is important to keep your pets properly vaccinated and to seek medical attention promptly if you or your pet are exposed,” said Dr. Noelle Bissell, director of the New River Health District.

Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the nervous system. According to the Virginia Department of Health, it is almost always fatal, unless preventative measures are taken before symptoms develop. They also offer additional steps to protect against exposure:

  • Do not feed stray animals. Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
  • Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies and their shots are up to date. By law, all dogs, cats, and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies.
  • Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and pets they are not familiar with.
  • Do not handle sick, injured, or dead animals.
  • Keep wild animals out of homes by capping chimneys with screens and blocking openings in attics, cellars, and porches. Ensure trash cans have tight-fitting lids.
  • Do not try to trap or handle stray and wild animals.
  • If you are bitten by a wild or stray animal, do not panic. Wash the wound(s) thoroughly with warm soapy water and contact animal control, your doctor or the Montgomery County Health Department for further recommendations.