After identifying a rabid raccoon and skunk within a mile of each other over the last 25 days, the Fairfax County Health Department is asking residents in the Centreville/Bull Run area to steer clear of wild animals and to report any animal attacks right away.
The rabid animals were in the western most part of the county near Cub Run Stream Valley Park & Trail, Pleasant Hill Park, and James McDonnell Recreation Center. They were found close to Pleasant Valley Road north of Highway 29 in residential areas. Both animals interacted with domestic pets, resulting in the testing of the wild animals.
During the time they were sick, the rabid animals may have had contact with other people or pets. If you, someone you know, or a pet touched or was bitten or scratched by any wild animals between 9/19/23 and 10/14/23, you are urged to call the Fairfax County Health Department’s Rabies Program at 703-246-2433, TTY 711.
Rabies is a serious disease caused by a virus that can infect wildlife, particularly foxes, racoons, skunks and bats, and domestic animals, such as dogs and cats. The rabies virus is found in the saliva and central nervous tissue of an infected animal.
People get rabies when they are bitten or scratched by an animal that is sick with the disease. The virus can also be passed along when an infected animals’ saliva, brain or spinal nervous tissue enters an open wound, mouth, nose or eyes of another mammal. To date, 22 animals have been diagnosed with rabies in the Fairfax Health District in 2023.
Animals with rabies may act normally during the early stages of the disease, making it difficult to know if the animal is infected. As the disease progresses, animals often show changes in behavior. For example, wild animals may act very docile and domestic animals may become aggressive. Rabid animals may stagger, drool, or become paralyzed. Protect yourself and your family from rabies: stay away from wild animals and be sure pets are vaccinated against rabies every year.
Here are other important steps to protect yourself and your pets from rabies:
Do not allow your pets to roam unattended.
Do not adopt or feed wild or stray animals.
Seal openings in your house so that wildlife cannot enter.
Report animal bites, animals that are acting strangely (including domestic animals), or altercations between wild and domestic animals to Fairfax County’s Animal Protection Police at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.
If bitten or scratched by an animal that might have rabies, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention right away. When vaccinations are provided in time, rabies treatment is 100 percent effective in preventing the disease. But if not treated, rabies is 100 percent fatal.
More information about rabies: www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/rabies.