Virginia Veterinary Medical Association & Virginia Department of Health Recognize Rabies Awareness Week

State Veterinary Association and State Department of Health Sponsor Annual Statewide Rabies Awareness Week.

Richmond, VA, September 20, 2013 --( The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) has partnered with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to sponsor a statewide effort to raise rabies awareness, during a week-long observance to take place Monday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 29. Each year, the two organizations join forces to sponsor Rabies Awareness Week and bring attention to the deadly disease, which is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Throughout the week, VVMA and VDH will promote guidelines to prevent families and pets from being exposed to rabies, offer educational opportunities to learn more about the destructive illness, and encourage veterinarians to communicate the dangers of rabies with patient families and others in the veterinary medicine community.

Rabies is a virus commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. It is important to remember that any mammal can get rabies, meaning it is essential for people to know how to protect themselves and their animals. One of the best ways to protect both people and pets from rabies is to visit your veterinarian to ensure all vaccinations are up to date. Vaccinating domestic animals like dogs, cats and horses against rabies creates a natural barrier between wildlife and humans. Additional tips for safeguarding against rabies include the following:

- Appreciate wildlife from a distance.
- Do not adopt a wild animal as a pet.
- Keep pets on your own property.
- Keep pet food and garbage inside.

To watch an educational video featuring Dr. Julia Murphy, State Public Health Veterinarian with the Virginia Department of Health, and Dr. Mark Finkler, president of the VVMA, visit

VVMA will promote 2013 Rabies Awareness Week throughout September on its Facebook and Twitter accounts. To follow along with VVMA’s conversation on Twitter, be sure to follow them at @VirginiaVMA and #VAFightsRabies. For more information about rabies and Rabies Awareness Week, visit

“There are several things pet owners can do to protect themselves and their pets from rabies,” said Dr. Murphy. “Vaccinating domestic animals like dogs and cats is key to rabies prevention. If we protect them, we protect ourselves. Rabies Awareness Week, in particular, is an opportune time to highlight the importance of preventing this deadly disease through both vaccination and rabies exposure prevention education.”

“Since the beginning of 2013, the Virginia Department of Health reports the state of Virginia has had a total of 321 confirmed cases of animal rabies,” said Robin R. Schmitz, executive director of the VVMA. “By partnering with the Virginia Department of Health, we are able to raise awareness about the many dangers of this deadly, yet preventable disease. The need for protection against rabies throughout the state of Virginia is clear, and it is critical that all residents understand the severity of this disease and take all necessary precautions and preventive measures.”

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About The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association:
The Virginia Veterinary Medical Association (VVMA) is a professional organization of veterinarians dedicated to preserving and enhancing the quality of human and animal life through veterinary medicine. The organization aims to establish and enhance open communication between members of the association and industry representatives. The VVMA provides continuing education programs and conferences, supports its members through mentoring programs, lobbies on behalf of the interests in the field of veterinary medicine and serves as an advocate and voice for the Virginia veterinary medicine community. For more information, visit, or call (800) 937-8862 or (804) 346-2611.
Virginia Veterinary Medical Association
Robert Buhler