A rabid skunk was captured in Shenandoah County last week, the Lord Fairfax Health District announced on Friday.
The skunk, found in a rural area off Oak Hill Drive near Woodstock on Sept. 3, was in an altercation with two dogs and was killed by the dogs’ owner, according to a news release from the Health District, part of the Virginia Department of Health. The owner made the animal available to the Health Department, and the skunk later tested positive for rabies, the release stated.
“This skunk no longer poses a threat,” Health District Director Dr. Colin Greene stated in the release, “however, this case offers a reminder that any contact with a raccoon, fox, skunk, or bat that could result in exposure to the animal’s saliva should be considered a potential rabies exposure. This applies to humans and domestic animals, and anyone exposed should receive an immediate medical evaluation.”
The Lord Fairfax Health District serves residents in the city of Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren.
The skunk is at least the 25th animal with rabies reported in the district so far this year, and the 11th in Shenandoah County.
The Health Department advises residents to keep away from wild animals or strays they don’t know and to report any unusual animal behavior, such as wild animals acting too friendly or domestic animals acting aggressively.
Rabies is fatal to humans and animals once symptoms begin, but it can be prevented in humans if they receive vaccines and medication soon after exposure.
For more information, call the Shenandoah County Health Department at 540-459-3733 or visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control or www.vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax.