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Page updated Mar 12, 2008 4:08 PM

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- March 6, 2008 -- PIO#089-08 For More Information, Contact Andrea Blackford, Communications Officer at 703.519.3489

Alexandria Health Department, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Urge Pet Vaccinations Against Rabies

Rabies and Microchipping Clinic Slated for Sunday, March 16

The Alexandria Health Department and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) are urging the public to “Protect the Ones You Love. Vaccinate Your Pets.” This important message is the focus of this year’s Rabies Awareness Week, March 10-16.

In 2007, 730 cases of rabies in animals were reported to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the highest number of cases reported since 1982. According to the Alexandria Health Department, this year, the City of Alexandria has had one rabies case to date. In 2007, the City confirmed seven rabies cases; the confirmed rabid animals were bats and raccoons. “The rabies virus is shed in the saliva of animals sick with the virus, so any animal bite should be taken seriously,” said Alexandria Health Director, Dr. Charles Konigsberg, Jr.

If an animal bites you, wash the wound immediately and call your physician; the AWLA (which handles the City’s animal control) at 703.838.4774; or the Alexandria Health Department at 703.838.4400. Likewise, if a wild animal bites your pet, contact your veterinarian, the AWLA, or the Alexandria Health Department immediately.

In recognition of Rabies Awareness Week, AWLA is offering a Rabies and Microchipping Clinic on Sunday, March 16, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, 4101 Eisenhower Ave. A rabies vaccination protects your pet, and a microchip offers permanent identification for your pet. Some veterinarians may also be offering low-cost rabies vaccinations and microchipping (check to see if your pet’s doctor is participating). State law requires that all dogs and cats over the age of four months be vaccinated against rabies. (Vaccines may be given as early as three months; one product is approved for kittens at eight weeks.)

The Alexandria Health Department advises the public to take the following steps to prevent their families and pets from exposure to rabies:

• Vaccinate all cats, dogs and ferrets against rabies and keep them up to date!
• Avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
• Do not feed wild animals or stray cats and dogs.
• Report stray animals to AWLA at 703.838.4774
• Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.
• Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

For more information on Rabies Awareness Week or the Rabies and Microchipping Clinic, contact Holly Feltner, Alexandria Health Department, at 703.838.4400, ext. 326, or Delores Murray, AWLA, at 703.838.4774, ext. 225.

For more information on rabies, visit the Virginia Department of Health Web site at or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at