HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – Rabies is no longer something that you only see in rural areas; in fact, animal control officers say it's becoming more and more of a suburban issue with two cases so far this year in the town of Ashland.
"We're seeing a lot of raccoon wildlife rabies out there, mostly with exposure to dogs but of course when your dog gets exposed to rabies, it can also transfer to humans, so we are very concerned about that," said Sgt. Kevin Kilgore with Hanover Animal Control.
Sgt. Kevin Kilgore says the recent heat has kept wild animals still for the past week or so, but they expect to see another surge in rabies once the temperature breaks.
"When people have pets in their backyard and wildlife interacts with them, there's always that chance that they could be exposed," said Kilgore.
Hanover County has seen lots of growth in the past few years with many neighborhoods encroaching on what were once wildlife habitats. Kilgore says you should have a healthy respect for wildlife and do what you can to can minimize your chances of exposure to the deadly virus.
"We don't want to invite animals into our yards by leaving them food sources whether that be trash or bird feeders overnight, anything that might attract wildlife," he said.
The hard truth here is that rabies is 100 percent fatal, so if your pet gets bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, and it's not vaccinated, the choices are limited.
"If an animal is exposed to rabies, the only options are having it totally confined for 6 months, which is extremely hard on the pet and the family or having it euthanized because rabies is 100 percent fatal and we want to make sure that doesn't happen to our citizens," said Kilgore.
If you see an animal behaving strangely or your pet gets attacked by a wild animal, be sure to call animal control.