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The original item was published from 10/18/2018 1:58:10 PM to 11/16/2018 12:00:04 AM.

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Posted on: October 18, 2018

[ARCHIVED] Orange County receives fourth positive rabies test this year

Dog Laying on a Bed

Orange County Animal Services has received its fourth positive rabies test result of the year, according to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This incident involved a skunk and occurred in the vicinity of Dairyland Road and Albert Road in Chapel Hill. The County recorded a total of 9 positive cases last year and 6 the year before.

The case originated on Tuesday, October 16, when a Chapel Hill resident’s dog encountered the skunk in her yard. The skunk chased the dog and was killed in a fight that ensued. The resident brought her dog inside and called Animal Control, who arrived and removed the skunk for rabies testing.

Because the dog had a current vaccination, she was 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 animal must either be destroyed or quarantined for a period up to four (4) months (or six (6) months for a ferret).

Because the resident handled her dog after exposure to the skunk, a Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department contacted her to evaluate the risk of rabies exposure and determined that this resident should begin the post-exposure prophylaxis that protects people from rabies. 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.

Skunks that become rabid in this area are likely the victims of the “spillover effect.” When an animal other than the dominant reservoir species, which is the raccoon in North Carolina, contracts the virus, it is called “spillover.” The other species that are most susceptible to getting rabies from raccoons are dogs and cats, groundhogs, and foxes.

The other host species of rabies in our own region and others is bats. 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).


The next Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinics will take place:

  • Thursday, October 25, 2018, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market on Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.
  • Thursday, November 15, 2018, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Orange County Animal Services on Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.

Animal Services will offer one and three-year rabies vaccines for $10 and microchips for $35. Three-year vaccinations require proof of a previous vaccine in the form of a printed certificate. Clinic dates for all of 2018 and clinic requirements are posted at

For more information, please call Orange County Animal Services at 919.942.7387.


  • 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.
  • Pets with current rabies vaccinations that may have been exposed to rabies must be revaccinated or they will be treated as unvaccinated pets.
  • Rabies can be transmitted through secondary exposure as well, so do not touch your animal without gloves if it has had any possible exposure to a rabies vector.
  • If a rabies suspect is alive, do not attempt to capture the animal. Keep visual contact with the animal until Animal Control 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 Animal Control immediately if you find a bat in your home even if there is no evidence of a bite.

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