The Chesapeake Health Department confirmed that a raccoon has tested positive for rabies.

The raccoon was located in the Etheridge Woods neighborhood in Chesapeake. The raccoon confronted a dog, however, the dog is up to date on rabies vaccinations.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye, nose or mouth.

Rabies is rare in currently vaccinated animals and is highly preventable in people. To prevent rabies in dogs and cats, keep them up to date on their rabies vaccinations. Virginia state law requires all dogs and cats over the age of four months to be vaccinated against rabies.

“An animal exposure is a serious medical event, for which prompt evaluation is critical. Rabies is highly preventable if vaccine is given early and as recommended,” said Nancy Welch, M.D., health director for the Chesapeake Health Department. “A prompt assessment and timely response may include observation or testing of an animal and, when necessary, rabies vaccinations. Unfortunately, without preventive treatment, by the time someone develops symptoms of rabies, there is no cure and the disease is fatal in almost 100 percent of cases.”

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