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Raccoon hit by vehicles near West Falls Church had rabies, city warns

A raccoon walking in grass (via Pete Nuij/Unsplash)

A raccoon struck by two different vehicles on Route 29 last weekend has tested positive for rabies, Falls Church City says.

The drivers hit the animal near the 500 block of S. Washington Street in the West Falls Church area on Saturday, Sept. 23, according to the city. The raccoon’s resulting injuries led Falls Church City police to euthanize it.

Before police arrived, however, at least two people came into contact with the animal.

“A witness stated that prior to officers arriving, both he and an unidentified driver came in direct contact with the injured raccoon while removing it from the roadway,” the city said in a news release.

The Fairfax County Health Department tested the raccoon for rabies and reported that it was positive on Tuesday (Sept. 26).

“The City of Falls Church Animal Control Officer and Fairfax County Health Department are seeking to identify the unknown driver (and any other individuals) who came in contact with the raccoon to clear them of rabies exposure,” Falls Church City said. “Please call the Fairfax County Health Department Rabies Program immediately at 703-246-2433 (TTY 711) if you believe that you were exposed.”

Falls Church says this is the first animal found within its city limits to test positive for rabies in 2023.

The Fairfax County Health Department typically identifies 40 to 60 rabies cases annually. Cases so far this year have included a raccoon that got attacked by a dog in Vienna and a skunk that chased, sprayed and bit hikers on the Bull Run Occoquan Trail in Clifton.

Rabies cases often increase in the spring, summer, and end of the fall, Fairfax County health officials previously told FFXnow.

“Rabies is a viral disease that people and pets can catch from infected animals through a bite, scratch, broken skin, and mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth.),” Falls Church City said. “It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.”

The city advises anyone who encounters sick, injured or aggressive wildlife that appear injured, sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive to avoid it and call its non-emergency line at 703-241-5053.

In Fairfax County, community members can report incidents to the Animal Protection Police at 703-691-2131.

Photo via Pete Nuij/Unsplash

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