A rabid coyote found in a rural area near Bahama is Durham County’s sixth case of animal rabies in 2017, the State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed.
No known human contact has been identified, according to the Durham County Department of Public Health. Previously, the county has discovered four skunks and one raccoon to be rabid, said Khali Gallman, communications and public relations manager for the Durham County Department of Public Health. This rabies incident is the first involving a coyote.
No known human contact has been identified with any of the rabid animals found this year, Gallman said.
“Coyotes can be found in suburban and rural areas throughout North Carolina. While in most cases, the coyotes are harmless, people should not approach, feed, or handle wildlife,” said Arlene Seña, medical director, Durham County Department of Public Health, in a county press release. “Therefore, residents should remember to maintain and update their pet’s vaccination records and to notify us immediately if they encounter a wild or domestic animal behaving erratically,” she said.
Pet owners whose pets have been vaccinated against rabies should still get a booster shot if their animals are exposed to rabies, Gallman said.
Public Health works with the Animal Services division of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Protection Society (APS) of Durham to investigate suspected cases of rabies in animals and potential rabies exposures in humans.
In animals, common symptoms of rabies may include decreased energy and appetite, and vomiting. Signs progress within days to weakness, seizures, difficulty breathing and swallowing, excessive salivation, aggression, and ultimately death.
Exposure to wild animals is the primary way people, domestic animals, and livestock contract rabies. Rabid raccoons, foxes, skunks, and coyotes typically show no fear of people, may appear with uncoordinated movements, and be active during the day despite their typical nature to be more active at dusk. In urban areas, they may attack domestic pets.
In 2016, Durham County had 10 rabies cases – one bat, one cat, three foxes, four raccoons and one skunk, according to state Department of Public Health figures. Orange County had seven cases in 2016 – three bats, one raccoon and three skunks.
If you see a wild animal that is behaving abnormally or appears injured or in distress, do not approach or handle it. Notify Durham County Animal Services immediately by calling 919-560-0900.
For more information about rabies, call 919-560-7896 or visit the Durham County Department of Public Health web page.