Rabid Skunk on Bull Run Occoquan Trail Saturday, June 10

The Fairfax County Health Department has confirmed rabies in a skunk found on the Bull Run Occoquan Trail near Balmoral Terrace and Cannon Fort Drive in Clifton. The skunk had attacked multiple people. If you, someone you know, or a pet touched or was bitten or scratched by the skunk on or around June 10, 2023, you are urged to call the Fairfax County Health Department Rabies Program at 703-246-2433, TTY 711.

People get rabies when they are bitten or scratched by an animal that is sick with the disease. If bitten or scratched by an animal that might have rabies, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention right away. When vaccinations are provided in time and appropriately, rabies treatment is 100 percent effective in preventing the disease. But if not treated, rabies is 100 percent fatal.

The rabid skunk was reported to have chased, sprayed, and bit multiple hikers. It generally behaved aggressively and persistently and was unresponsive to attempts to deter it from approaching hikers. During the time it was sick, the skunk may have had contact with other people or pets. The rabid skunk was described as an adult animal, black with a distinctly large white stripe covering most of its back. It was reported multiple times between the hours of 7am-2pm on Saturday June 10, before being captured by Animal Protection Police.

Rabies is a serious disease caused by a virus that can infect wildlife, particularly foxes, racoons, skunks and bats, and domestic animals, such as dogs and cats. The rabies virus is found in the saliva, brain and spinal tissue of an infected animal. People get rabies when they are bitten or scratched by an animal that is sick with the disease. The virus can also be passed along when an infected animals’ saliva or central nervous tissue enters an open wound, mouth, nose or eyes of another mammal. To date, 10 animals have been diagnosed with rabies in Fairfax County in 2023.

Animals with rabies may act normally during the early stages of the disease, making it difficult to know if the animal is infected. As the disease progresses, animals often show changes in behavior. For example, wild animals may act very docile and domestic animals may become aggressive. Rabid animals may stagger, drool, or become paralyzed.  Protect yourself and your family from rabies: stay away from wild animals and be sure pets are vaccinated against rabies every year. Remember, if the animal is not your own, leave it alone!

Here are other important steps to protect yourself and your pets from rabies:

  • Do not allow your pets to roam unattended.

  • Do not adopt or feed wild or stray animals.

  • Seal openings in your house so that wildlife cannot enter.

  • Report animal bites, animals that are acting strangely (including domestic animals), or altercations between wild and domestic animals to Fairfax County’s Animal Protection Police at 703-691-2131, TTY 711.

More information about rabies can be found at on the Health Department’s website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/rabies/.