Rabid Bat Found on Hillsborough Playground

Orange County Animal Services reports a rabid bat was found at a Hillsborough elementary school last week.

Last Thursday, several children came across the carcass of the bat on the playground. Some reportedly kicked the dead bat around before teachers became aware of the situation. The bat was removed for testing.

A nurse from the Orange County Health Department is consulting with the families of the children involved to determine if they require post-exposure treatment.

The incident is the eighth reported case of rabies in Orange County so far this year, and the third to involve a bat. Last year, 23 cases were confirmed. The majority of those involved raccoons.


Bat In Family Playroom Marks Orange County’s 6th Rabies Case

Orange County Animal Services reported the sixth case of rabies this year, following an incident in which a bat was found inside a house.

Hillsborough residents trapped a bat in an upstairs playroom of their home on Tuesday. Animal Services was called to remove it for testing.

Though no members of the household reported contact with the animal, officials say it’s possible they were inadvertently exposed if the bat was in the house overnight.

Bat bites can be undetectable, so people sleeping a room with a bat might not even know if they’ve been bitten. In this instance, no family members slept in the playroom and the door was reportedly left closed all night.

Nonetheless, a public health nurse is working with the family to determine if they should undergo post-exposure treatment.

In the United States, rabies in humans is very rare, but the few cases reported in recent years have been linked to bats. Officials say if you come in contact with a bat, it’s crucial to contain it without further contact and call Animal Services immediately. Outside of office hours, you can reach an Animal Control officer by calling 911.

You can learn more here.


OC Animal Services Reports Rabid Skunk In Rougemont

Orange County Animal Services on Monday confirmed the county’s 22nd case of rabies this year.

The case involved a skunk in Rougemont. A resident who found the skunk in a pen with two dogs killed the skunk and had it removed for testing. One of the dogs showed signs of having fought with the skunk. Luckily, both dogs were current on their rabies vaccinations.

They’ll receive booster shots. The owners will meet with a community health nurse to discuss the possibility of second-hand exposure.

All dogs, cats and ferrets are required to have current rabies vaccinations. Orange County Animal Services will offer low-cost clinics in January 2015. For the full schedule, click here.


Another Rabies Case In OC, 19th This Year

A bat tested positive for rabies last Sunday after two dogs found it in a family’s home.

According to Orange County Animal Services, this the 19th positive rabies in the county so far this year – up significantly from 2012 and 2013.

Animal Services director Bob Marotto visited WCHL last week and spoke on the air with Aaron Keck.

Fortunately in this case, there was no direct contact between the dogs and the bat, and both dogs were already vaccinated against rabies. Per state law, they’ll receive a booster shot as a precaution.

Raccoons are the major source of rabies in North Carolina, but bats can actually pose a greater risk to humans because their bites can go undetected.

Click here for dates, times, and information on upcoming rabies clinics.

If you find you may have come into contact with a bat, contain the bat if possible and call Animal Services immediately at 919-942-PETS.


18th Confirmed Rabies Case in Orange County

In addition to the two cases released yesterday, Orange County Animal Services have received another positive rabies test result of the year, bringing up the number of confirmed rabies incidents in the county to 18.

The Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, told WHCL what happened in the latest confirmed case that took place on Tuesday, August 5:

“It involved a fox that was impounded after being killed by some residents in southern part of the county in Carrboro,” says Marotto. “The residents killed the fox because the fox had latched onto the dog in their yard, and would not release the dog. To free the dog from the fox, the folks used some implements to separate the fox and the dog resulting in the death of the fox.”

The Orange County Health Department contacted the dog’s owners to check for risk of human exposure to rabies. The dog involved in this case was currently vaccinated against rabies and will receive a booster shot in accordance with rabies laws in North Carolina.

“I think what I would emphasize is, not only the importance of pet vaccination, and then if there is an exposure, boostering,” says Marotto, “but I think what we want to remind people is to have their pets supervised at all times when they’re outside in order to try and avert situations in which their pets may either pursue a wild animal, or a wild animal may pursue their pets.”

On Thursday, August 14, from 3 – 5 p.m., the Orange County Animal Services Center will host another Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic. The center is located at 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill. There will be a $10 cost for rabies vaccinations, and microchips will be available for $25.

For more information, please call Orange County Animal Services at 919-942-7387 or click here.


Two More Rabies Cases Confirmed for Orange County

The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health reports that Orange County Animal Services has encountered two more positive tests for rabies, bringing the number of positive tests for this year to 17.

The last two reported cases involved a fox and a bat.

Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, described the both incidents, beginning with the first incident that took place on Saturday, August 2, when a Carrboro resident’s pet duck was being attacked by a grey fox.

“The fox attacked the duck. The owners separated the fox from the duck with a garden implement,” explains Marotoo. “After chasing the fox away, we have surmised that the fox was hit and killed by a car.”

A different resident contacted Animal Services the following day, which is where Animal Services believe it was the same fox.

On Sunday, August 3, a Carrboro resident found a dying bat on the ground near her home as she was taking her dog for a walk.

“The dog found a bat on the ground and approached the bat; may have nosed the bat,” says Marotto. “The bat was still alive, and the bat apparently showed its fangs to the dog as the dog was near the bat. That bat tested positive [for rabies], as did the fox.”

Marotto encourages that residents of Carrboro and the rest of Orange County keep their pets’ rabies vaccines as up-to-date as possible.

“We often stress the importance of vaccinating our pets as we should, and keeping them currently vaccinated,” says Marotto. “Also, be sure that if there is an exposure to rabies that our pets receive the booster shot required by law.”

On Thursday, August 14, from 3 – 5 p.m., the Orange County Animal Services Center will host another Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic. The center is located at 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill. There will be a $10 cost for rabies vaccinations, and microchips will be available for $25.

For more information, please call Orange County Animal Services at 919-942-7387 or click here.


Orange County Animal Services Advise Coyote Safety

Orange County Animal Services has released a media advisory about what citizens can do to stay safe and stay smart when it comes to coexisting with wild coyotes in the county and throughout North Carolina.

The Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, says that while advisories about coexisting with coyotes have been issued for several years now, what prompted the latest alert was the recent surge in reports from the Hillsborough area involving missing outside cats and other small pets that are kept outdoors, which Animal Services has connected to the presence of coyotes preying on these pets.

“They are virtually everywhere,” says Marotto, “not only in all 100 counties in North Carolina, but in all of the different areas of Orange County as well.”

He says there has been a rise in coyote presence in more urban areas as well, such as one case earlier this summer in which Animal Services impounded a coyote that was found in an alley on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.

Marotto says that the three greatest “attractants” for coyotes to invade areas in which they normally are not found are food, water, and shelter, which he says can come from a number of different sources.

Food sources can come from spills when feeding dogs or wild birds.

Marotto suggests that in order to prevent coyotes from becoming too habituated, or generally comfortable around human populated areas, people need to give the coyotes reasons to stay far away.

“People should haze coyotes if and when there is contact,” says Marotto. “People should make loud noises and do things that make the coyote turn around and go away from us. If we don’t do that, what happens is that coyotes become more and more comfortable or tolerant and habituated, and eventually then we do have some incidents that we really don’t want to have.”

In addition to likely food sources for coyotes coming from loose pet food, Marotto says that local wildlife biologists are certain that some cats and even small dogs have become part of the food chain for coyotes. In order to prevent outdoor pets from being taken by coyotes, Marotto offers a few recommendations as to what pet owners can do when it comes to allowing their beloved pets outdoors.

“One of them is not just leaving your cat or your dog outside, and leaving it outside, because in those circumstances there is not a person present to fend off or haze and deflect any approaches by a coyote,” says Marotto. “In addition to being present with our dogs or cats when they are outside, if there is some consideration of leaving them outside unattended, they must really be in a secure enclosure.”

Citizens are encouraged to contact Orange County Animal Services if they encounter coyotes engaging in threatening behavior or becoming habituated in residential areas, they can access the Coyote Incident Reporting Form here, or call Animal Services at (919) 942-7387.


Accidental Alarm Registration; “Better Back Care”; August Pet Adoption

If you’re in Chapel Hill and you haven’t registered your alarm yet, now is the time to do it.

Chapel Hill’s Accidental Alarm Program went into effect on July 1 – and since then, more than 1600 residents and more than 650 businesses have registered their alarms, as required.

The program is designed to cut down on the costs associated with emergency workers having to respond to false alarms. The town will issue a fine for any unregistered alarm system or any alarm that accidentally activates more than three times in a 12-month period.

There’s no cost to register your alarm. You can do it online by visiting TownOfChapelHill.org/alarms.

UNC’s School of Medicine has won a $6 million award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s Innovation Center for a program called “Better Back Care.”

The program is still in development, but the purpose is to create a “medical neighborhood” connecting 60 primary care providers with UNC’s spine program to improve care for people with back pain. It will be directed by Dr. Brian Casazza and Dr. Amy Shaheen.

UNC is one of only 39 awardees nationally – and this is the only spine-care program to be selected as an award recipient.

If you’re thinking about adopting a pet, August might be the perfect time.

As part of a “Back to School” promotion, Orange County Animal Services is reducing adoption fees by nearly 50% for cats and dogs. Cat adoptions will be $50 and dog adoptions will be $60 – and as always, all the animals are fully vaccinated, vet checked, and spayed or neutered.

The Animal Services office is on Eubanks Road in northern Chapel Hill. To see photos of the animals, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices.


14th Rabies Case Confirmed, Set to Double 2013 High

Fourteen cases of rabies have been confirmed this year, and since it is only the beginning of June, that number is set to double last year’s total of twelve cases by the end of 2014.

The majority of rabies cases this year have been found in raccoons, and the most recent incident involves a fight between two dogs and a raccoon at a Mebane residence on June 1. The resident shot the raccoon and called Animal Control to remove it for testing. The raccoon was confirmed to be rabid – only one dog was up-to-date on its immunizations.

Director of Orange County Animal Services Bob Marotto advises Orange County residents to take preventative steps to reduce the contact between wild animals and pets, as well as their homes.

Marotto told WCHL frequent attractants for “nocturnal visitors” to residences are remnants of dog or cat food left outside, spillage from bird feeders and places to build dens such as porch or shed spaces. Marotto also advises residents of Orange County to know the frequency of wild animals near their homes and warning signs of rabid animals.

“One of the signs that something is not right with animals exhibiting rabies is that their normal behavior is absent,” Marotto said. “They may approach dogs and people. And if we see abnormal behaviors, we should take special care to remove ourselves and pets.”

If you or your pet encounters an animal believed to be rabid, you should report it to Animal Services immediately by calling 919.942.7387.

It is also advised that pets not be allowed outside without supervision, especially during the summer.

“Bats are another host of rabies and bats become more active during those months of the year,” Marotto said. “But human beings are more active in the summer. Days are longer; our dogs are outside with us in the summer for longer periods of time. So the likelihood of contact between pets and people and wildlife is greater during the summer months.”

The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year. Their next one will be held on Saturday, June 14, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Animal Services Center in Chapel Hill. The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10, and microchips are also offered for $25.

For more information on rabies in Orange County and a full list of 2014 clinic dates, click here.


Eleven Rabies Confirmed In OC, Total Nears 5-Year High

Eleven rabies cases have been confirmed so far this year in Orange County, according to Animal Services. If we pass 13 confirmed cases in 2014, it will mark the highest total in the past five years.

Twelve positive rabies cases were recorded in 2013.

Bob Marotto, Director of Animal Services, said the rate at which positive cases are being reported indicates that rabies is on the rise.

“If this trend continues throughout 2014, it seems likely that we are going to have upwards of 25 or 30 confirmed cases of rabies,” Marotto said.

In the late 90s, more than 100 cases of rabies were reported annually.

“Our ups and downs over the last 10 or fifteen years have ranged from a low of five [cases], I believe, to a high of 28,” Marotto said. “It will not surprise me if we stay up in that area of upwards of 30 cases in 2015 and beyond.”

The most recent incident happened on May 4 in Chapel Hill when a resident found a dead raccoon on her property. She immediately called 9-1-1 and was connected to the on-call Animal Control Officer, who removed the raccoon.

The resident’s dog had a current rabies vaccination and will receive a booster shot pursuant to North Carolina’s rabies laws.

According to these laws, if there is “a reasonable suspicion of exposure,” a dog or cat with a current vaccination must receive a booster shot within 120 hours, equating to five days. By contrast, an unvaccinated animal must either be destroyed or quarantined for a period of six months.

Dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months are legally required to be up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

“The prevalence of rabies that we are experiencing requires heightened awareness and requires that we are doubling our effort to take all of the due precautions that can protect us, our families, our community and our pets.”

Marotto said that rabies is a cyclical disease that ebbs and flows, demonstrating the importance of consistently taking precautionary measures and reporting any incidents to Animal Services.


The next Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic will take place on Saturday, June 14, from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Animal Services Center in Chapel Hill.

The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10, and microchips will also be offered at this clinic for $25.

Click here for 2014 clinic dates.