Orange County

Orange County reports 6th positive rabies test of 2017

Orange County Animal Services has received its sixth positive rabies test result of the year, according to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This incident involved a raccoon. The county recorded a total of six positive cases last year and 10 the year before.

The case originated on Monday, May 29, when a Chapel Hill resident was walking along a trail with his off-leash dog. The dog owner heard a scuffle and spotted his dog wrestling with a raccoon nearby. The raccoon was killed in the incident and the dog was injured slightly. The resident called Animal Control to have the raccoon removed and tested for rabies.

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 (4 days). By contrast, an unvaccinated animal must either be destroyed or quarantined for a period up to four (4) months.

A Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department will be contacting the resident to evaluate his risk of rabies exposure and whether there is a need for 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 situation.

Raccoons are a host (or reservoir) species to rabies in our area and the region. Any other animal that becomes rabid in this area is likely the victim 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, skunks, 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 by calling 911.

Vaccination clinic set

The next low-cost rabies vaccination clinic will take place:

▪  Saturday, June 10 from 9 a.m. to noon at Orange County Animal Services, 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill. Animal Services will offer one and three-year rabies vaccines for $10 and microchips for $25. Three-year vaccinations require proof of previous vaccine in the form of a printed certificate. Clinic dates for all of 2017 and clinic requirements are posted online at

For more information, 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