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

Recent rabies cases involving foxes in Arlington and D.C. might cause concern for nearby neighbors, but Fairfax County has not seen any such incidents so far this year.

The county has had 11 cases of rabies this year out of 72 tested animals, a typical amount, rabies program manager Bryant Bullock said on Tuesday (May 3).

The positive cases have involved 10 raccoons and a groundhog.

“Our whole area has been endemic for rabies since the…early 1980s,” he said. “Our numbers are trending typical.”

The county usually has 40-60 confirmed cases of rabid animals per year, with bumps in the spring, summer, and end of the fall. About half of the cases involve raccoons, a third foxes, and another third skunks, but the disease has also been detected in bats, cats, groundhogs, and beavers, Bullock said.

He said people should avoid wildlife acting strangely, either overly aggressive or overly friendly.

“We track all potential exposures to both humans and domestic animals, and if a human has been exposed, we recommend the treatment,” Bullock said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people who may have been bitten or scratched to quickly consult a health professional, because once rooted, the disease is almost always fatal.

Bullock says rabies shots for pets are the best protection for people. He stressed the importance of reporting any bite or scratch from any animal.

The county has an online portal to report incidents as well as animal protection police to respond seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Potential rabies cases can be reported to 703-691-2131.

Fairfax County’s Animal Protection Police can also be contacted for animal bites, animal cruelty or neglect, and sick or injured wildlife.

Additionally, Bullock says people should contact animal protection police any time a bat is found in a home, adding that an officer should respond and the bat shouldn’t be let out of the home. Doctors can advise on next steps, such as getting rabies treatment.

Totaling around 300 per year, reports of bats found indoors are common in Fairfax County because the area is home to several species of structure-roosting bats.

Photo via Pete Nuij/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

A woodpecker perches on a tree branch (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

FCPS Proposes Limiting Phone and Social Media Use — “Proposed updates to school policies in Fairfax County Public Schools would ban students from using social media sites for non-academic purposes during school hours and define when cellphones can be used during the school day.” The phone policy has already been implemented at Herndon middle and high schools. [WTOP]

Falls Church Development Under Construction — Developer Insight Property Group will break ground today (Friday) on its 2.7-acre Broad and Washington project, which has been in the works since 2015. The mixed-use development will eventually include a 50,000-square-foot Whole Foods, 339 residential units, space for the theater nonprofit Creative Cauldron, a public plaza, and ground-floor retail. [Falls Church News-Press]

Police Officer Saves Glued Snake — “This little snake is alive and free tonight thanks to @FairfaxCountyPD’s Animal Protection Police Officer McLemore! The snake was caught in a glue trap, and it took time, care, and mineral oil to free him. Thank you for rescuing this little guy!” [Fairfax Animals/Twitter]

Metro Police to Increase Presence — “The Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) says they are increasing their visibility on trains, buses, and in stations to help deter crime…Crime has not spiked on Metro recently, but it certainly has not dropped at the same proportion that ridership has.” [DCist]

Vienna Plants Tree for Arbor Day — “Help Vienna celebrate the 150th anniversary of Arbor Day by planting a tree with us tomorrow, Friday, April 29! We’ll plant a white Dogwood with the help of local Girl Scout Troops 1489, 50056, and 50157. The event starts at 5 p.m. next to the Vienna Community Center front entrance.” [Vienna Happenings]

Meeting Planned on Mount Vernon RECenter Project — The Fairfax County Park Authority will update the public at a meeting on Wednesday (May 4) on its expansion plan, which will require a two-year closure starting early 2023. Staff will explain the project schedule, including the timing of the recently approved facility closure due to supply chain issues and key infrastructure system failures. [FCPA]

Tornados Becoming More of a Risk in D.C. Area — “While it has been 20 years since the La Plata disaster, its occurrence is a reminder that the D.C. region is vulnerable to devastating whirlwinds on par with those of famed tornado alleys in the Great Plains and Deep South. The D.C. region also sees much more frequent tornadoes of lesser strength.” [The Washington Post]

Consulting Firm Workers Help Clean Reston — “As part of Earth Day last week, employees from Virtual, Inc. picked up trash and helped to beautify the area surrounding their offices at 11130 Sunrise Valley Drive in Reston…Virtual is a professional services firm that works with associations and technology standards groups that are forming, growing and changing, according [to CEO Andy] Freed.” [Patch]

Registration Open for Hunter Mill Bicycle Tour — “Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting the 2nd annual Tour de Hunter Mill on Saturday, May 14, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event, including a five-mile family route and a 18-mile route, begins in the Town of Vienna at the Town Green, located at 144 Maple Ave. East.” [Hunter Mill District Office]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 62 and low of 38. Sunrise at 6:14 am and sunset at 8:01 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Construction continues on the new South County Police Station on Lorton Road.

The station will include 34,000 square feet of space and a 23,000-square-foot animal shelter. It also has 20,000 square feet of outdoor space dedicated for the shelter, a fuel island to support fleet vehicles and parking.

“The addition of the South County Police Station will allow the department to organize smaller patrol areas and decrease response times throughout the county,” a Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson told FFXnow.

While the facility isn’t slated to open until the spring of 2023, the police department is already working to recruit officers. A hiring event is scheduled for Friday (April 8) at the Workhouse Arts Center.

The FCPD has added 70 positions over the past few years in preparation for the new station. An additional $290,000 for two initial positions to staff the animal shelter has been proposed in the county’s advertised fiscal year 2023 budget, which is currently being negotiated before the Board of Supervisors’ scheduled May 10 adoption.

Voters approved a $151 million public safety bond referendum in 2015. The facility is expected to cost roughly $30 million to design and construct, according to FCPD.

Here’s more from the county on why the project was chosen:

The growing population of southern Fairfax County will be served by the new police station and animal shelter. Officers will have a shorter distance to drive when responding to calls, and officers won’t be pulled away from their own districts. The new South County Animal Shelter will offer services such as rabies clinics, pet adoptions, spay and neuter services, wildlife education and a volunteer program in a convenient location.

The project was successfully bid out to Forrester Construction in February 2021, and workers broke ground in May of last year.

The county currently has an animal shelter in Fairfax.

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Firefighters rescued two cats from a house fire in McLean last night (Monday) caused by a kerosene lamp.

One of two occupants was transported to a hospital with minor injuries, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department wrote in a news release.

Investigators determined that the fire started at the house in the 6800 block of Churchill Road after an occupant accidentally spilled kerosene when refilling a kerosene-fueled lamp. When the lamp was turned on, the kerosene ignited and spread to nearby combustibles in a first-floor bedroom, the release said.

Both of the occupants evacuated the two-story house, which also had working smoke alarms that went off.

Units from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department and the Arlington County Fire Department were dispatched to the fire around 8:32 p.m.

Fire was showing from windows on the first floor when units arrived, FCFRD said. Crews quickly extinguished it.

“Two cats were rescued by crews and care was initiated by EMS,” a release from the department states.  “Animal Control transported cats to local vet. Both expected to recover. There were no firefighter injuries reported.”

The fire was contained to the bedroom and damages amounted to approximately $62,500.

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