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Rabies found in skunk on Bull Run Occoquan Trail, multiple hikers attacked

A rabid skunk attacked multiple people on June 10 (Photo via Unsplash/Bryan Padron)

A rabid skunk was found on the Bull Run Occoquan Trail on Saturday, June 10, the Fairfax County Health Department confirmed today (Tuesday).

The skunk reportedly chased, sprayed and bit multiple hikers before it was found near Balmoral Terrace and Cannon Fort Drive in Clifton. Health officials advise that it may have had contact with other people or pets during the time that it was sick.

The skunk was described as an adult largely black animal with a large white stripe covering most of its back. It was reported several times between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. before it was captured by Animal Protection Police.

Rabies can infect wildlife — especially foxes, raccoons, skunk, bats and domestic animals. People get rabies when they are bitten or scratched by an animal infected by it.

To date, 10 animals have been diagnosed with rabies in the county this year, including a raccoon that was bitten by a dog in Vienna last month.

Here’s more from the health department on what to look out for:

Animals with rabies may act normally during the early stages of the disease, making it difficult to know if the animal is infected. As the disease progresses, animals often show changes in behavior. For example, wild animals may act very docile and domestic animals may become aggressive. Rabid animals may stagger, drool, or become paralyzed.  Protect yourself and your family from rabies: stay away from wild animals and be sure pets are vaccinated against rabies every year. Remember, if the animal is not your own, leave it alone!

If bitten or scratched by an animal that might have rabies, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention right away. When vaccinations are provided in time and appropriately, rabies treatment is 100 percent effective in preventing the disease. But if not treated, rabies is 100 percent fatal.

If anyone was bitten or scratched by the animal on or around June 10, county health officials urge individuals to call the Fairfax County Health Department Rabies Program at 703-246-2433, extension 711.

Photo via Bryan Padron/Unsplash