Fairfax County Health Department Urges County Residents To Protect Families and Pets Against Rabies


Fairfax County Office of Public Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935, FAX 703-324-2010

Jan. 21, 2004

Fairfax County Health Department Urges County Residents To Protect Families and Pets Against Rabies

The Fairfax County Health Department urges county residents to vaccinate their dogs, cats and ferrets against rabies. The reminder comes during Virginia's Rabies Awareness Week, a statewide public education campaign Jan. 18 - 24.

"Getting your pet vaccinated against rabies helps protect people as well as pets," said Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., county health director. She cautioned that people should avoid contact with unfamiliar pets, stray animals and all wildlife.

Rabies is a deadly virus that attacks the nervous system. Because the rabies virus is shed in the saliva of animals sick with the virus, health officials caution that any animal bite should be taken seriously.

"Anyone bitten by an animal, wild or domestic, should wash the wound immediately and notify their physician, the Health Department or Animal Control," said Addo-Ayensu. Likewise, citizens should immediately contact a veterinarian or the Health Department if their pet is bitten by a wild animal.

Animal bites can be reported to the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-246-2951, TTY 703-591-6435 or Fairfax County Animal Control at 703-830-3310 (V/TTY).

Health officials recommend the following steps to prevent families and pets from exposure to rabies:

  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep the vaccination current
  • Avoid contact with wild animals, stray cats and stray dogs
  • Do not feed wild animals, stray cats and stray dogs
  • Report stray animals to Fairfax County Animal Control
  • Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home
  • Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash

Virginia law requires all dogs and cats older than four months to be vaccinated against rabies. Vaccines can be given as early as three months and one product is approved for kittens at eight weeks. In Fairfax County, licenses are required for all dogs four months and older and can only be obtained with a veterinarian’s certificate verifying the dog has been inoculated against rabies.

The Fairfax County Health Department laboratory confirmed 47 cases of rabies in animals in 2003, including 33 raccoons, five skunks, three foxes, three bats and three feral cats. For more information on rabies in Fairfax County, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ps/ac/rabfacts.htm.

FAIRFAX COUNTY IS COMMITTED TO A POLICY OF NONDISCRIMINATION IN ALL COUNTY PROGRAMS, SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES AND WILL PROVIDE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS UPON REQUEST. TO REQUEST SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS, CALL 703-324-3187, TTY 703-324-2935. PLEASE ALLOW FIVE WORKING DAYS IN ADVANCE OF EVENTS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE NECESSARY ARRANGEMENTS.

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