Health Officials Reach Out to Residents and Pet Owners in New Church
(Accomac, VA).—The Eastern Shore Health District advises anyone who may have had contact or whose pets may have had contact with a rabid cat in the Hillcrest Drive area of New Church, Virginia contact officials immediately by phone at (757)787-5880.
The cat is described as an approximately 7-pound solid gray male that was reported to the Accomack County Sheriff’s Department this week. Animal Control Officers captured the cat and confined it at the Eastern Shore Regional Animal Control Facility in Melfa where the cat displayed symptoms suggestive of rabies before dying. Health officials were alerted and submitted it for testing at the Division of Consolidated Laboratories in Richmond, where the rabies was confirmed as the cause of the cat’s death.
Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus that is found in the saliva of infected animals. It is transmitted to others by a bite or whenever fresh saliva from an infected animal enters a fresh, open wound or enters the mucous membranes of the eye, nose, or mouth of another.
Rabies is endemic on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, most often affecting raccoons and other wild animals such as skunks, bats, foxes, and possums, but it can kill any mammal (animals with hair) including livestock and people. Unvaccinated cats are highly susceptible to rabies. This cat is the 18th unvaccinated cat known to have rabies on the Eastern Shore of Virginia since 1994.
Health officials advise the following to all residents of the Eastern Shore to protect themselves and their children from rabies:
- Keep all cats, dogs, ferrets, horses and other valuable livestock current on their rabies vaccinations. Consult your veterinarian if you are not sure if your animals are up to date.
- Adults should teach children to avoid contact with stray or unknown animals.
- Do not leave pet food outside that could attract stray or wild animals.
- Keep all trash including thrown out food in covered containers where animals cannot reach it.
- Report all animal bites to your local health department and/or your county Sheriff’s office.
- Report stray dogs and stray cats to your county Sheriff’s Department.
If you would like to learn more about rabies in Virginia, please visit