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Fox tests positive for rabies in Woodbridge, health officials warn

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 9/23/2021 7News Staff

Prince William County health officials are warning Woodbridge residents after a fox found in their community tested positive for rabies. The fox was found on Sunday, September 19 near Bethel Church Drive and Smoketown Road.

Officials said over the span of several days, there were multiple reports of fox bites and encounters in the Minnieville Road and Smoketown Road area. While officials cannot confirm the rabid fox was linked to any of these incidents, they ask people to be on the lookout for wildlife acting strangely. Please call the health district at 703-792-5363, or the Prince William Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500.

"Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Rabies can be prevented in cats, dogs, ferrets and some livestock with a rabies vaccination. Rabies kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain tissue 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," Prince William Health District said in a statement. 

Caption: WJLA

They offer these steps to prevent the spread of rabies: 

  • To protect pets and their owners from rabies, 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 Prince William Health District is reminding the public to avoid contact with bats, feral cats, stray dogs and wild animals, particularly in the area where the sick fox was found. See additional precautions below.

Other steps to prevent spread:

  1. Do not feed stray animals. Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
  2. 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.
  3. Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and pets they are not familiar with.
  4. Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals.
  5. 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.
  6. If you observe any stray animals in the area, please contact the Prince William County Animal Control Division for assistance at 703-792-6500. Please do not try to trap or handle stray and wild animals.
  7. If a bat is found indoors and may have had contact with someone, do not release it. Please call the Prince William County Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500, to determine if the animal should be picked up and tested for rabies.
  8. 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 Prince William Health District for further recommendations.

For additional information, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/DEE/Rabies/ or call the Prince William Health District at 703-792-5363 or the Animal Control Division at 703-792-6500. You can also follow the Health District on Twitter @PrinceWilliamHD or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrinceWilliamHD.

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