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Page updated Mar 27, 2009 9:25 AM

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  March 27, 2009   

Alexandria Health Department Urges Residents to Protect Their Families and Pets Against Rabies 

A dog that was recently brought to an Alexandria veterinary clinic was confirmed to be positive for rabies. The rabid dog had bitten another dog. Unfortunately, the dog that was bitten was euthanized because it did not have a current rabies vaccination. Residents should note that rabies is usually a fatal disease and is most often transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or when saliva comes into contact with an open wound or mucous membrane (such as nose or mouth). 

The Alexandria Health Department urges residents to take the following steps to protect themselves, their families and their pets against rabies:

• Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies and their shots are up to date. By law, all dogs, cats and ferrets must be vaccinated against rabies.
• Avoid stray animals; call the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Animal Control Division (703.838.4774) to have them picked up.
• Avoid wild animals, especially raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks. Feed your pets indoors and do not let them wander.
• Keep wild animals out of homes by capping chimneys with screens and blocking openings in attics, cellars and porches. Ensure trash cans have tight-fitting lids.
• Teach children to avoid contact with wild animals and unfamiliar pets.
• Do not handle sick, injured or dead animals.
• If a bat is found indoors and may have had contact with someone, do not release it. Please call the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Animal Control Division (703.838.4774) to determine if the animal should be picked up and tested for rabies.

Rabies is common in Virginia and it is essential that pet owners continue to vaccinate their pets at regular intervals. If you or your pet is attacked or bitten by another animal (wild or domestic), promptly report it to your veterinarian, Animal Control or the Health Department (703.838.4400, ext. 326).

For more information about rabies, please visit the following Web sites.

• Virginia Department of Health:
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

For additional information and tips on rabies prevention, please call Holly Feltner at the Alexandria Health Department, 703.838.4400, ext. 326, or call the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Animal Control Division, at 703.838.4774.