CHAPEL HILL — The Orange County Animal Services Department received its eighth positive rabies result of the year from the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health.
Last year, the county recorded 12 positive cases.
The case began Tuesday when a Chapel Hill woman’s dog attacked a raccoon while they were walking on her property, injuring it.
The resident had spotted the raccoon moving slowly under her porch earlier that morning, but it retreated into the woods after noticing her. After the attack, the resident called Orange County Animal Control to remove the raccoon for testing.
“Prevention is the best measure for effective rabies control,” said Bob Marotto, 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.”
The dog in this case was currently vaccinated against rabies and will receive a booster shot pursuant to North Carolina statute. According to the state’s rabies law, if there is “a reasonable suspicion of exposure,” a dog or cat with a current vaccination must receive a booster shot within 120 hours (five days).
By contrast, an unvaccinated animal must either be destroyed or quarantined for six months.
An Orange County Health Department nurse is contacting the family to evaluate the resident’s risk of rabies exposure. At issue is whether there is the possibility of secondary exposure from the resident handling her own dog after the incident. A decision about the post-exposure prophylaxis that protects people from rabies is based upon all the factors involved in this type situation.
Rabies is rooted in reservoir species, such as raccoons and bats. If there is any possibility of exposure, citizens should immediately call Animal Control or 911.
The county offers regular $10 rabies vaccination clinics. For future clinic dates, go to orangecountync.gov/animalservices
For more information, call Animal Services at 919-942-7387.