Chesapeake health officials warn residents about rabid wildlife

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Chesapeake health officials are warning residents about rabid animals, after four raccoons and two foxes that had encounters with pets in the last four months tested positive for the deadly disease.

“We want people aware that we’re seeing an increase in rabid wild animals,” said Chesapeake Health Department environmental health manager, Mike Rexroad.

Rexroad said the encounters happened on Bethel Road last week and on Rowland Avenue, Crowell Avenue, Vanderploeg Drive and Mingo Trail this summer.

Officials have been sending informational flyers to daycare centers, schools and organizations that work with the homeless.

Elizabeth Eriksen, who lives on Railroad Avenue where officials said a fox encountered a domestic animal in June said she has seen a rabid animal too.

“I always catch it in my back and then I hear something scraping and in the mornings when I get up, I have to push my door back in…That is scary, because I have a baby in the house…I told my husband we need a fence in our yard,” Eriksen said.

Rexroad said there are telltale signs if a fox or raccoon has rabies, for example if it is out during the daytime or showing erratic behavior.

“If they look scruffy and not well, then that’s another indication. If they have neurological symptoms, they’re approaching you, they’re aggressive, they’re aggressive to your dog or your cat…that’s a definite giveaway because most wild animals don’t want to come in contact,” said Rexroad.

According to the Chesapeake Health Department, humans and pets can get rabies from saliva of an infected animal through an open wound or mucous membrane. You should make sure your pets have current rabies vaccinations and eliminate food sources around your home, officials said.

If your or your pet has been in contact with a wild or possibly rabid animal, call the Chesapeake Health Department at (757) 382-8672, Chesapeake Animal Services at (757) 382-8080, or the Chesapeake Police Department non-emergency number at (757) 382-6161 for after hours.