SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Suffolk Health Department received notice on Sept. 29 that a raccoon tested positive for rabies in the Lake Meade Park area of Suffolk. A dog caught the raccoon, which tested positive. The dog was vaccinated against rabies and will receive a rabies booster and be under a 45-day confinement period as a precaution. 

Rabies is highly preventable by a rabies vaccine, but there is no cure for rabies if contracted, and it is fatal in almost 100% of cases. The disease is also fatal in infected domestic dogs and cats that have not been vaccinated.   

Dr. Nancy Welch, acting health director for the Western Tidewater Health District, strongly emphasizes the following recommendations for Suffolk residents to take in protecting their families and their pets from rabies:  

  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact Suffolk Animal Control at (757) 514-7855 or the Suffolk Health Department at (757) 514-4751. 
  • Seek medical treatment promptly for any animal bite to ensure appropriate and timely evaluation and treatment. All animal exposures must be taken seriously.  
  • Do not approach wild or stray animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, cats, and dogs.  
  • Ensure all pet dogs, cats and ferrets have current rabies vaccinations. Please consult your veterinarian, Suffolk Animal Control, or the Suffolk Health Department if you have any questions about pet vaccinations.  
  • Confine your pets to your property.  
  • Securely seal garbage containers with lids.  

Virginia state law requires all dogs and cats four months or older to be vaccinated against rabies. For more information on rabies, you can contact the Suffolk Health Department at (757) 514-4751, Suffolk Animal Control at (757) 514-7855, or visit the Virginia Department of Health’s website here.