Harrisonburg groundhog confirmed rabid

Virginia Department of HealthThe Virginia Department of Health confirmed that a pet groundhog has tested positive for rabies. The animal was frequently seen in northeast Harrisonburg, near Jefferson Street and East Johnson Street, from Wednesday, August 8 through Saturday, August 11.

Anyone who may have had close contact with the groundhog and its saliva, particularly by being bitten, scratched, or licked in an open wound or mucous membrane, should seek immediate medical attention.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal, including humans, 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 in the eyes, nose, mouth, or in an open wound.

According to Dr. Laura Kornegay, health director for the Central Shenandoah Health District, if you are exposed it is critical to notify your health care provider so that you can be promptly treated with vaccine to prevent rabies infection. It can save your life. You should also avoid approaching or handling wild animals and report any suspicious animal to Harrisonburg Animal Care and Control (540-434-4436) or the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Health Department (540-574-5200).

Staff from the Virginia Department of Health’s Central Shenandoah Health District and Harrisonburg-Rockingham Health Department have visited areas the groundhog was known to be present to try to identify anyone who may have been exposed, so they can be assessed and treated if necessary.

For more information contact the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Health Department at 540-574-5200 or visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/epidemiology-fact-sheets/rabies.

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