News Flash Home
The original item was published from 4/17/2023 8:40:37 AM to 4/29/2023 12:00:06 AM.

News Flash

Home - News & Events

Posted on: April 17, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Animal Services announces positive rabies test from raccoon in Chapel Hill

Photo of raccoon

Orange County Animal Services has received a positive rabies test, according to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This incident involved a raccoon and occurred in Chapel Hill. For more information and statistics about rabies in Orange County and other areas in NC, visit The North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services

This case originated on Thursday, April 13, when a Chapel Hill resident discovered a raccoon behaving strangely near his home. Animal Control was contacted and they removed the raccoon for rabies testing, noting that the animal seemed unwell and lethargic.

The resident and his dog may have had some exposure to the raccoon. A Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department will evaluate the risk of rabies exposure. As is always the case, a decision about the post-exposure prophylaxis that protects people from rabies is based upon an assessment of all the factors involved in this type of situation. If the dog has had a rabies vaccination, it is able to receive a booster rabies vaccination within the required window. When there is “a reasonable suspicion of exposure,” a dog, cat, or ferret with a valid vaccination history must receive a booster shot within 96 hours (4 days). By contrast, an unvaccinated cat or dog must either be euthanized or quarantined for a period up to four (4) months (or six (6) months for a ferret). 

Please make sure your pets are current on their rabies vaccinations. It is important for the health of your family and your pets. Rabies is a fatal viral infection. Your veterinarian is the best source of information on vaccinations for your pet. 

In North Carolina and other areas, rabies is commonly found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, wolves, groundhogs, and beavers. A host species of rabies in our own region and others is the bat. Of the few cases of rabies in humans in our country in recent years, most have been traced to bats. If there is any possibility of exposure from a bat, it is critical that citizens immediately contact their animal control program. If an incident involving a bat – or other rabies vector, such as a raccoon or skunk – should occur outside regular hours of service, an Animal Control Officer should be reached right away through Emergency Communications (9-1-1). 

Orange County Animal Services will host a low-cost rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, April 22, in Mebane, NC. For more details about low-cost clinics, please visit For more rabies information, you may review the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention.


  • Rabies virus can be transmitted through secondary saliva exposure when handling an animal, so do not touch your pet without gloves if it has had any possible exposure to rabies. 
  • It is a law in North Carolina that dogs, cats and ferrets older than four months must have a current and valid rabies vaccination at all times.
  • If a rabies suspect animal is alive, do not attempt to capture the animal. Keep visual contact with the animal until an Animal Control Officer arrives. 
  • If you discover a bat inside your house, be sure not to release it, but do remove yourself and any animals from the area.
  • Always call Orange County Animal Control immediately if you find a bat in your home even if there is no evidence of a bite.  

Facebook Twitter Email