Five Danville residents have undergone post-exposure rabies treatment due to a rabid fox in the Mount Cross Road and Tyler Avenue area, according to Kelly Waller, environmental health supervisors with the Pittsylvania-Danville and Southside Health Districts.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Health has advised pet owners in that area to keep their animals inside as health officials continue to investigate and trap animals in connection with the rabid fox that was found on July 21.
So far, no additional animals beyond the fox have tested positive for rabies at this time and there have been no more reports of pets or people being attacked, according to Waller.
Of the individuals exposed, three adults and one child came into direct contact and another adult was exposed, said Waller.
The Pittsylvania-Danville Health District has recommended trapping other potential animals in those areas to include feral cats, raccoons, possums, and skunks that may have been exposed to rabies, and pose a continuing threat to people and pets in the area. Trapping the animals is a public health measure to prevent the spread of rabies by removing from the public any animals that were exposed to the rabid fox.
Local animal control officers are in the process of trapping the animals and taking them to the Danville Area Humane Society, where they will be housed in a separate area. They will be observed for 10 days, after which they will be sent to the state laboratory in Richmond for further analysis.
Paulette Dean, executive director with the Danville Humane Society, said that people feeding stray cats in that area may have led to the development of a cat colony along Piedmont Drive. It was suggested that those animals may have contributed to the development of rabies in the area.
It is not known how many stray cats are being fed in that area, as there is not official Trap, Neuter or Spay, Return (TNR) program in Danville so there are no registered cat colonies, said Dean.
In a locality where cat colonies are regulated, there would be proof of one rabies vaccination, said Dean, adding that very few receive the needed boosters.
Pet owners in the neighborhoods in the area of Mount Cross Road and Tyler Avenue are encouraged to keep their cats and other animals indoors until the trapping is completed in approximately three weeks. If you believe that your missing pet may have been captured in a trap at the site, please contact the Danville Area Humane Society at 434-799-5306.
Rabies is a viral disease of mammals that is 100% fatal if contracted. Any incident in which a person has been bitten or scratched by an animal, or exposed to the animal’s saliva should be reported to the local health department right away, in order to determine any risk of rabies exposure and recommendations for public health and medical follow up. Any incident in which a pet or other domestic animal is attacked or bitten by a wild animal should also be reported. If you think you may have been exposed to the fox or any other animal near Mount Cross Road or Tyler Avenue in Danville, contact the Pittsylvania-Danville Health Department at 434-766-9828.