Orange County raccoon tests positive for rabies
Posted February 28, 2014
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Orange County officials reminded pet owners to keep their animals updated on their shots after a raccoon tested positive for rabies this week, marking the county’s fourth positive rabies test this year.
County Animal Control officials tested the raccoon after a Chapel Hill resident spotted it on Thursday near his dog, appearing nearly dead. Though the dog was not seen having direct contact with the raccoon, exposure before the owner’s arrival is a possibility.
The dog, which lacked up-to-date rabies vaccinations, must either be euthanized or quarantined for six months. The owners have not yet made a decision.
“Prevention is the best measure for effective rabies control for pets and people alike,” said Bob Marotto, the county’s director of animal services.
“Ensuring cats, dogs and ferrets are current on their rabies vaccinations is one of the most important responsibilities of a pet owner, since it can quite literally be the difference between life and death for their pet and protect the public from rabies.”
Dogs or cats with current rabies vaccinations must receive a booster shot within five days of suspected exposure.
Twelve animals tested positive for rabies in Orange County last year, in addition to 12 positive cases in 2012.
Raccoons are the main hosts of rabies in North Carolina, spreading the virus to cats, dogs, groundhogs, skunks and foxes.
Bats, the major source of rabies in rare human cases across the country, can also carry the virus. Authorities say residents should contact Animal Control immediately if exposed to a bat and call 911 if they encounter an odd-acting bat, raccoon or skunk after regular office hours.
Animal Control will offer rabies vaccines at a discount clinic on Thursday, March 20, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hillsborough Farmers Market. The vaccines will cost $10, and only cash will be accepted. For clinic dates throughout the year, visit Orange County Animal Services’ website.