Orange County Animal Services has received its third 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 Hillsborough. The County recorded a total of eight positive cases last year and six the year before.
This case originated on Sunday, Dec. 5, when a Hillsborough resident discovered a skunk in an outdoor enclosure with his dog. After unsuccessful attempts to scare the skunk away, he killed the skunk and called Animal Control. Animal Control arrived and removed the skunk for rabies testing.
Because the dog had a current vaccination, he 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 (four days). By contrast, an unvaccinated cat or dog must either be euthanized or quarantined for a period up to four months (or six months for a ferret). Please make sure your pets are up to date 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.
Because the resident had direct contact with his dog after possible exposure to the skunk, a Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department is in contact with him to 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.
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).
For more information, you may review the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention. You may also visit http://www.orangecountync.gov/307/Rabies.
Did you know?
- 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 a rabies vector. Common NC rabies vectors are bats, raccoons, and foxes.
- 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 immediately or they will be treated as unvaccinated pets.
- 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.