Orange County

Is rabies on the rise in Orange County?

This is a view of the rabies virus under a microscope.
This is a view of the rabies virus under a microscope.

A seventh positive rabies case was reported by Orange County Animal Control this week.

Orange County Animal Services officers were called to investigate a dead fox in Mebane on Sunday that was suspected of carrying the disease.

The fox first was seen Saturday after it acted aggressively towards a family dog, a lady said. The next morning the fox was found dead inside a nearby donkey pen. She called animal control to have it removed and tested for rabies.

The lady said her dog was properly vaccinated for rabies and only required a booster shot. Had the dog’s rabies vaccination not been up to date, it would have been destroyed or faced up to a four-month quarantine, according to animal control authorities. The donkey was being examined for rabies exposure by a North Carolina Department of Agriculture veterinarian.

Orange County had six positive cases in 2016 and 10 in 2015. By comparison, there were 20 positive cases in 2008, 19 in 2007, 26 in 2006 and 24 in 2005.

Foxes are not the dominant host species of rabies and most often contract the virus from raccoons. Dogs, cats, groundhogs and skunks are the other species most susceptible to contracting rabies from raccoons. Bats are a host species of rabies and can spread the disease.

The animal control office should be contacted immediately through Orange County Emergency Services (911) for incidents involving suspected rabid animals.

The county will be holding two low-cost rabies clinics this week. One will be at the Farmer’s Market on Margaret Lane in Hillsborough (Thursday, Sept. 28 from 5-7 p.m.) and the other will Saturday, Sept. 30 (9 a.m.-noon) at Orange County Animal Services at 1601 Eubanks Road, Chapel Hill.

Both clinics will offer one- and three-year rabies vaccines for $10 and microchips for $35. Three-year vaccines require proof of previous vaccination.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews

Upcoming Rabies Clinics

▪  Thursday, Sept. 28, 5-7 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market on Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.

▪  Saturday, Sept. 30, 9 a.m.-noon at Orange County Animal Services, 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.