Skunk tests positive for rabies

Published 9:38 am Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Piedmont Health District recently confirmed a case of rabies from a skunk in Lunenburg County.

Ed Dunn is environmental health manager with the Virginia Department of Health’s Piedmont Health District, which encompasses seven counties, including Lunenburg.

Dunn said the skunk was found at a property with a Victoria ZIP code. Dunn said he was unsure whether the skunk had already died or was killed.

When the department responded and tested the skunk, the skunk was found to have rabies.

While Dunn said this may be the first rabies case in Lunenburg for some time, he said wild animals with rabies is not an uncommon occurrence in the region.

“Every month or so in one of the counties that we cover, we’re going to have a positive skunk or raccoon,” Dunn said.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms of rabies in animals, according to the VDH, are animals that exhibit abnormal behavior, difficulty swallowing, poor balance, paralysis and seizures. Dunn said while a widely-known symptom of rabies is foaming at the mouth, he said that symptom isn’t one that the VDH sees often.

“Wild animals are normally shy,” Dunn said, noting that skunks are nocturnal animals. “If you see an animal that’s acting unusual, that’s a good indication that there may be something wrong with it.”

This is particularly the case when nocturnal animals appear in public during the day and exhibit odd behavior, Dunn said.

Dunn said if someone sees an animal and believes it to have rabies, to stay away from the animal and call their local animal control.