Alexandria Health Department Reminds Public of Rabies Risks

Page archived as of July 16, 2008

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2008      

Alexandria Health Department Reminds Public of Rabies Risks
Four Animal Cases Confirmed in Alexandria This Year

A sick raccoon recently collected near N. Pegram St. in the City of Alexandria has tested positive for rabies. While no known human exposure occurred in the above case, the Alexandria Health Department (AHD) is taking steps to remind the public to avoid close interactions with wild animals in the City and to have their pet dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated against rabies.

To date four animal rabies cases have been confirmed in the City of Alexandria, occurring in three raccoons and one groundhog. Residents should note that rabies is a fatal disease and is most often transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or when saliva comes into contact with an open wound or mucous membrane (such as the nose or mouth).

The AHD recommends the following steps to help residents protect themselves and their pets against rabies exposure:

  • 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.
  • Do not feed stray animals. Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
  • 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.
  • Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and pets they are not familiar with.
  • Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals.
  • If a bat is found indoors and may have had contact with someone, do not release it. Please call the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s Animal Control Division (703.838.4774), to determine if the animal should be picked up and tested for rabies.

For additional information and tips on rabies prevention, please call the Alexandria Health Department, at 703.838.4400 ext. 326, or the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Animal Control Division, at 703.838.4774.