Orange County Animal Services is reporting the 15th positive test for rabies in the county so far this year.
The latest reported incident comes from Hillsborough, where a resident noticed that her two dogs were hovering over a certain spot in her back yard this past Monday.
The subject of their interest turned out to be a bat. She brought the dogs inside the house and called Animal Services to have the bat removed.
The bat was tested at North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health, and came up positive for rabies.
“It’s the second rabies case we’ve had this year that does involve a bat,” says Orange County Animal Services Director Bob Marotto. “And bats are going to be more active in the summer months. And we know from our past experience, not only here in Orange County, but in North Carolina at large that the number of potential rabies exposures involving bats climbs during the summer months.”
Eleven of the other reported rabies cases in Orange County this year involved raccoons, and the remaining two were a fox and a skunk, according to Marotto.
Reported cases of rabies have gone up since last year, when the total number was 12 – the same as the year before.
Fortunately, the two Hillsborough dogs that came in possible contact the most recently reported rabid bat were up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, and only required booster shots within five days of the incident.
Otherwise, the risk of rabies exposure would have made it legally mandatory for the dogs to either be destroyed or quarantined for six months.
“For people, we want people to be mindful that bats may be beneficial to our environment as insectivores, and for other reasons,” says Marotto. “But they are rabies carriers, and if we have contact with a bat, we want to be absolutely positive to get medical care.”
Marotto adds that people who come into contact with a bat may not even realize at first if they’ve been bitten, because bat bites are so tiny.
If you have any questions or suspected rabies cases to report, you can call Orange County Animal Services at 919- 942-7387.
A rabies vaccination clinic will take place from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday at Piedmont Feed Center, located at 4805 NC Highway 54 West in Chapel Hill.
The cost for vaccinations is $10 – cash only. A link to the the full clinic schedule is available here.