Accomac, VA – On Friday, November 2, 2018, one of two foxes collected from the Town of Onancock was confirmed to have been infected with rabies virus by the Division of Consolidated Laboratories (DCLS) in Richmond, Virginia. Two gray foxes were captured in town after three people were bitten on Wednesday, October 31. Health officials had no way to confirm whether the foxes submitted for testing were, in fact, those responsible for the biting incidents. As a result, the victims are receiving rabies post-exposure prophylaxis that will prevent them from developing the illness that is almost always fatal.

The Eastern Shore Health District continues to urge residents, not only in the Town of Onancock, but in all of Accomack and Northampton Counties to be vigilant and suspicious of any wild animal that approaches people or pets. Rabies can infect animals (mammals specifically) any time of year and in any location. Raccoons, skunks, and foxes are the wild animals most often laboratory confirmed with rabies in Virginia after contact with a person or a pet.

Everyone can help prevent the risk of rabies in their community by doing the following:

  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to your local animal control department and do not go near it yourself.
  • Teach your children to stay away from wild animals and to tell you if they see one acting strange.
  • Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. It may attract wild or stray animals.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.
  • Report all stray dogs and cats to local animal control.
  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
  • Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
  • If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to the local health or animal control authorities. Be sure your vaccinated pet also receives an immediate booster vaccination.
  • If you or your child is bitten by a wild or stray animal, immediately wash the wound with warm soapy water and/or alcohol, then notify the health department and your physician.

For more information about rabies in Virginia, please visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control/.