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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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