Seventh rabies case confirmed in Orange

Jun. 06, 2013 @ 06:29 PM

The Orange County Animal Services Department received its seventh positive rabies result of the year from the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. Last year, the county recorded 12 positive cases.

The case originated on Wednesday when a Carrboro resident’s daughter returned from school and heard squealing outside. The girl found the family cat with a bat in its mouth. The cat dropped the animal and the resident called Orange County Animal Control to remove it 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.” 

Fortunately, the cat 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 a period of six (six) months.

A nurse from the Orange County Health Department is contacting the family to evaluate the daughter’s risk of rabies exposure. At issue is whether there is the possibility of secondary exposure from the girl handling their cat after the incident.