What You Need to Know About the Rabies Virus

In 2015, the Fairfax County Health Department Rabies Laboratory tested 328 animals for rabies. Four bats, five cats, three foxes, 29 raccoons and two skunks tested positive for the fatal disease. The animals that were tested had potentially exposed a person or domestic animal to rabies. Therefore, the lab’s work saved 285 people or domestic animals from unnecessary rabies vaccinations. In a typical year, 40 to 60 animals will be determined to be rabid in Fairfax County and that trend has existed for decades.

Last year, Fairfax County Animal Services Division responded to 1,709 potential rabies exposures that occurred in the county and 226 Fairfax County residents received rabies vaccinations. Approximately 70% of those who received the vaccine were actually exposed to rabies and 30% of those who received the vaccine did not need it.

Here are some quick and easy facts that you need to know about Rabies:

What is Rabies?

  • Rabies is caused by a virus and can infect both people and animals.
  • People usually get rabies when they are bitten by an animal that is sick with the disease.

What are the Symptoms of Rabies in Animals?

  • The first symptoms of rabies may be nonspecific and include lethargy, fever, vomiting, and anorexia.
  • Signs progress within days to cerebral dysfunction, cranial nerve dysfunction, ataxia, weakness, paralysis, seizures, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, excessive salivation, abnormal behavior, aggression, and/or self-mutilation.

What to Do When You See an Animal with Possible Rabies:

  • Call and report the animal, it’s location, and behavior to the Fairfax County Police Department / Animal Control Services: 703-691-2131

How to Avoid Exposure to Rabies:

  • Vaccinate your Pets.
  • Do not allow your pets to roam unattended.
  • Enjoy wildlife from afar. Teach children not to handle wild or unfamiliar animals.
  • Do not adopt wild animals.
  • Do not feed wild or stray animals. Secure pet food and trash cans.
  • Seal openings in your house so that wildlife may not enter.

What to Do If an Animal Bites You in Fairfax County:

What are the Early Symptoms of Rabies in Humans?

  • Early symptoms of rabies in people can include fever, headache, and weakness.
  • As the disease gets worse, symptoms may include difficulty sleeping , anxiety, confusion, tingling sensation usually at the site of the bite, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, salivating more than usual, difficulty swallowing, and fear of water.
  • Death usually occurs within days of the onset of symptoms.

Upcoming Reduced Cost Rabies Clinics:

Saturday June 11 – Noon to 2pm: Sully District Government Center- 4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly VA 20151

Sunday September 11 – Noon to 2pm: Mason District Government Center – 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale VA 22003

Sunday October 2 – Noon to 2pm: Lake Fairfax Park – 1400 Lake Fairfax Park Dr, Reston VA 20190

Sunday November 6 – Noon to 2pm: Sully District Government Center- 4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly VA 20151

Sunday December 4 – Noon to 2pm: Sully District Government Center- 4900 Stonecroft Blvd, Chantilly VA 20151

Please Note:

  • Dogs, cats, and ferrets will be vaccinated at the clinic.
  • Dogs MUST be on leashes. Cats and ferrets MUST be in carriers.
  • All pets will receive a 1-year rabies vaccine. To obtain a 3-year vaccine, bring your pet’s prior rabies certificate showing that your pet has been vaccinated in the past, the pet does not have to be currently vaccinated to be given a 3-year vaccination.
  • Only rabies certificates will be issued (no tags).
  • The cost of each vaccination is $15.00; cash and check only.
  • 2016 County Dog Licenses will be sold at each clinic at additional cost of $10.00 each.

Helpful Rabies Links: