A rabid skunk involved in an altercation with a dog was killed by the dog's owner on Jan. 4, the Virginia Department of Health announced in a Monday news release.

The skunk was killed in a rural area off Wilderness Trail, east of Luray, and later tested positive for rabies, according to the Lord Fairfax Health District.

"This skunk no longer poses a threat," District Director Dr. Colin Greene stated in the release.

However, he said, the case serves to remind residents about the threat of contact with outdoor animals, particularly raccoons, foxes, skunks, groundhogs, bats and feral cats. The rabies virus is spread through the saliva of an infected animal.

“This applies to humans and domestic animals, and anyone exposed should receive an immediate medical evaluation,” Greene said.

This is the first report of rabies in the region so far this year.

The Lord Fairfax Health District covers the city of Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren.

In 2019, the district reported more than 25 cases of rabies, most in Shenandoah County (12) and Warren (seven). Three of the rabies reports involved skunks.

For more information about rabies, visit  vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-epidemiology/rabies-control or vdh.virginia.gov/lord-fairfax.