Fairfax County Health Department has confirmed rabies in a cat located in the 7800 block of O’Dell Street in the Springfield area. The cat attacked three people on Wednesday, August 15. Fairfax County Animal Protection Police were able to trap the animal and the Fairfax County Public Health Laboratory conducted the rabies testing this morning and it was positive.
The cat is described as an orange-colored male tabby without a collar. The cat was aggressive but moved with a slow gait. During the time it was sick, the cat may have had contact with other people or pets. If you, someone you know, or a pet touched or was bitten or scratched by the animal between August 6 and August 15, you are urged to call the Fairfax County Health Department 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, brain and spinal 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 or central nervous tissue enters an open wound, mouth, nose or eyes of another mammal.
To date, 16 animals have been diagnosed with rabies in Fairfax County in 2018. None of those animals was found in this area of the county.
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. Remember, if the animal is not your own, leave it alone!
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 and appropriately, rabies treatment is 100 percent effective in preventing the disease. But if not treated, rabies is 100 percent fatal.
More information about rabies can be found at on the Health Department’s website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/rabies.
Fairfax County Health Department
703-246-8635, TTY 711