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.

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/14th-rabies-case-confirmed-set-double-2013-high/

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.

2014 LOW-COST RABIES VACCINATION CLINIC:

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.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/eleven-rabies-confirmed-oc-total-nears-5-year-high/

Seventh Positive OC Rabies Case Confirmed In Skunk

Seven rabies cases have been confirmed in Orange County so far this year, according to Animal Services. In total, twelve positive rabies cases were recorded in 2013, so we have already surpassed the halfway mark of that figure, and it is only April.

The most recent positive rabies test involved a skunk, whereas the other incidents have involved raccoons.

On Monday, Hillsborough residents found a dead skunk in their dog’s pen.  Their son removed the skunk from the pen with a shovel before calling Animal Control to have it picked up and tested for rabies. No parties are believed to have touched the skunk or the dog after the incident, though the case has been referred to the Orange County Health Department.

A communicable disease specialist will work with the owners to assess their risk of rabies exposure.

Unfortunately, the dog in this case was not currently vaccinated against rabies. North Carolina law requires that it must be either destroyed or quarantined for six months.  By contrast, a dog or cat that does have a current rabies vaccination must only receive a booster shot within five days of any suspected rabies exposure.

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

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 to roam free where they can be exposed to wildlife.

The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year.

The next Rabies Vaccination Clinic will take place on Thursday, April 17, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Animal Services Center in Chapel Hill.  The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10.

Click here for a complete list of 2014 clinic dates.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/seventh-positive-oc-rabies-case-confirmed-skunk/

OC Raccoon Rabies Cases Could Be On The Rise In 2014

Six rabies cases have been confirmed in raccoons so far this year in Orange County, according to Animal Services. In total, twelve positive rabies cases were recorded in 2013, so we have already hit half of that figure this year, and it is only March.

Bob Marotto, Director of Animal Services, said that rabies is a cyclical disease that ebbs and flows, demonstrating the importance of consistently taking precautionary measures.

“It certainly seems like we are having an uptick in the number of rabies cases. That may well be related to the cycling of rabies in the host species. We see that in the historical data available for Orange County and for the state of North Carolina,” Marotto said.

In 2005-2007, Marotto said that there were more than 20 confirmed cases reported each year. In the 1990s, when raccoon rabies first erupted in our region, he estimated that there were upwards of 90 confirmed cases per year.

The sixth rabies case in 2014 was reported on Saturday, March 22, when Carrboro residents spotted a raccoon in their driveway. They called Animal Control to have the raccoon picked up, and it later tested positive for rabies. The residents’ dog did have contact with the raccoon before Animal Control removed it, and both parties involved briefly touched their dog afterward, before washing their hands.

The dog was currently vaccinated against rabies 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.

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 to roam free where they can be exposed to wildlife.

The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year.

The next Rabies Vaccination Clinic will take place on Thursday, April 17, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Animal Services Center in Chapel Hill.  The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10.

Click here for a complete list of 2014 clinic dates.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/oc-raccoon-rabies-cases-rise-2014/

Fourth Rabies Case Confirmed In Orange County For 2014

Four rabies cases have been confirmed in raccoons so far this year, which Bob Marotto, Director of Orange County Animal Services, says is above the number of cases recorded at this point in recent years.

In 2012 and 2013, twelve cases of rabies were confirmed. Marotto adds that those figures were at the lower end of the range of yearly cases the county has recorded in the past two decades.

In 2005-2007, there were more than 20 confirmed cases per year.

“Twelve is actually low by historical standards. If you go back into the 1990s when raccoon rabies first erupted in our region, in our state and in our county, I believe that there were upwards of 90 confirmed cases each year,” Marotto says.

The fourth rabies case in 2014 was reported around February 27 when a Chapel Hill resident spotted his dog near a raccoon that appeared to be almost dead. The resident removed his dog from the area and called Animal Control to remove the rabid raccoon for testing.

Marotto explains that dog was not believed to have had direct contact with the raccoon, but the possibility of exposure before the owner’s arrival couldn’t be ruled out.

Unfortunately, the dog was not currently vaccinated against rabies. North Carolina law requires that it must be either destroyed or quarantined for a period of six months, which is very costly for the pet owner.

“It is not often that we have a case where there’s been an exposure of a dog or cat to rabies and the dog or cat is not vaccinated, but when that happens, the choices that face the owner are dreadful choices.”

Marotto reminds residents to have their pets vaccinated. Dogs, cats, and ferrets older than four months are legally required to be up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.

“It is prevention and reporting—I think that is really true. The prevention is that we always want to insure that our animals are vaccinated against rabies.”

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 to roam free where they can be exposed to wildlife.

The Animal Services Department holds periodic low-cost vaccination clinics throughout the year. Their next one will be held on Thursday, March 20, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Farmer’s Market in Hillsborough.  The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10, and only cash will be accepted at this clinic.

Click here for a complete list of 2014 clinic dates.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/fourth-rabies-case-confirmed-2014/

Animals Services Warns Of Possible Wildlife Attacks On Pets

CHAPEL HILL - Orange County Animal Services is warning pet owners about several cases involving injured, killed or missing pets. Two of the incidents are believed to be the result of wildlife attacks on pets, possibly coyotes.

“In both of these situations, the dogs died. One dog apparently died of an attack from another animal. In the other situation, the dog was apparently very seriously injured as a result of attacks from other animals,” said Bob Marotto, Director Orange County Animal Services.

The first dog death was believed to have occurred as a result of a wildlife attack, but Animal Services couldn’t make an absolute determination because of a lack of communication with the dog’s owner. He cannot confirm that either of the attacks were from coyotes, but Animal Services is not ruling out the possibility.

In 2013, there were complaints about coyotes following people in southern Orange County, though Marotto said there haven’t been any attacks on animals or humans reported recently.

“I would really underscore that because we don’t want to fuel the sense on the part of people that anything has changed with coyotes,” he said.

If your pets have sustained injuries of an unknown origin or have disappeared from a setting that could potentially involve wildlife, Maratto said it is imperative to contact Animal Services immediately. Reporting these incidents allows the department to track and collect data regarding possible wildlife attacks.

“We can assess these situations to assure that people are doing what it is that needs to be done and to avert any unwanted contact with wildlife and to be able to co-exist.”

Marotto said these recent attacks also show the importance of vaccinating your pet against rabies.

Rabies is typically transmitted from the bite of a rabies-infected animal.  Raccoons and bats are the main carriers of rabies in the mid-Atlantic states, but coyotes can also be carriers. Any physical contact with raccoons or bats should be reported to Animal Services, Marotto explained.

To report a physical encounter between a pet and a wild animal or between a person and a wild animal, you can call 919.942.7387.

For questions about a potential human exposure, contact a communicable disease nurse at the Orange County Health Department at 919.245.2400.

For more information about wildlife, please visit the Animal Services website.

http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/animals-services-warns-possible-wildlife-attacks-pets/

This Week In Orange County! (Weather Permitting.)

**UPDATE: The OWASA Board meeting scheduled for Thursday night (see below) has been cancelled. The Board will accept public comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at their meeting Thursday, February 27. (To read the plan, again, see below.)

ORANGE COUNTY – UNC will test its emergency sirens today, Tuesday, February 11, between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.

The test was originally set to take place in late January, but got postponed because of the snow that hit the area.

You’ll hear the sirens if you’re on campus, downtown, or near the Friday Center or Carolina North. The purpose is to test the Alert Carolina system; UNC will also send a text message to about 50,000 cell phones registered by students, faculty and staff.

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Carrboro town manager David Andrews has named Carol Anderson Dorsey as the town’s new human resources director. Dorsey has spent the last five years as human resources director for the city of Oxford, NC; her prior jobs included serving as director of human resources for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.

A total of 85 candidates applied for the position, representing 16 different states.

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The Orange Community Players will open their 2014 season in February with “Steel Magnolias,” the acclaimed story of six very different Southern women whose tight friendship carries them through joys and tragedies.

“Steel Magnolias” runs from February 13-16 at the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough. You can purchase tickets at the Senior Center, or online at OCPNC.com.

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The OWASA Board is inviting you to come ask questions and comment on their Draft Strategic Plan at a meeting on Thursday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the OWASA Building on Jones Ferry Road.

You can also send your comments and questions via email or by letter or fax. Send an e-mail to boardmembers@owasa.org; send a letter to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510; or send a fax to 919-968-4464.

Click here to read the draft strategic plan.

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Chapel Hill town government is moving out of Town Hall! (Part of it, at least.)

Renovations are about to begin at Town Hall, to repair the damage from last year’s flood and make some other layout changes to improve customer service. In the meantime, the mayor’s office has moved to the Chapel Hill Public Library, along with the office of the town manager and seven other Town staffers.

Everyone will move back into Town Hall when the renovations are finished. Town Council chambers are expected to reopen in September; other building areas will be addressed in phases after that.

Other town officials who are temporarily moving to the library: mayoral aide Mark McCurry, Assistant to the Town Manager Jason Damweber, Policy and Strategic Initiatives director Mary Jane Nirdlinger, Sustainability Officer John Richardson, Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett, Organizational Effectiveness Coordinator Rae Buckley, and Administrative Assistant Peggy Paumer.

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This weekend, the campus organization VDAY Carolina is staging a bilingual production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” to benefit the Orange County Rape Crisis Center.

Shows run from Friday, February 14, through Sunday, February 16 at Hanes Auditorium, with two shows each on Friday and Saturday–one in English and one in Spanish.

You can buy tickets at Union Box Office, over the phone or online. For ticket information, visit VDAYCarolina.web.unc.edu.

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Thursday, February 13, UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center will host the world premiere of “Ice Music,” a multimedia creation by the artist Brooks de Wetter-Smith. “Ice Music” examines the beauty and the importance of ice in our world, featuring de Wetter-Smith’s videography and photography, a new musical composition by Lowell Liebermann, and dance choreographed by Carey McKinley.

“Ice Music” will premiere at 8:00 p.m. on February 13, in the Nelson Mandela Auditorium at the FedEx Center as part of UNC’s Process Series. On Friday the 14th, there will be a workshop presentation and discussion at 4:00 p.m., also in the Mandela Auditorium.

For more information, click here.

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You’re invited to a public information meeting on Thursday, February 13, to discuss Orange County’s “Agricultural Support Enterprises” program.

The program is designed to help farmers generate additional income by expanding the types of activities they may pursue on their farms. It’s been in development since 2001; Orange County is currently considering amending the Unified Development Ordinance to adopt it.

The meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. in the Food Lab of the Environmental and Agricultural Center, located at 306 Revere Road in Hillsborough.

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Protect your cats and dogs by coming to a Microchip Clinic on Thursday, February 13, from 3-5 p.m. at the Orange County Animal Services Department on Eubanks Road.

Microchips will cost $25 per pet, which includes registration with 24PetWatch’s national database. The Department will also offer one-year rabies vaccinations as well, for $10 per pet.

For more information, visit OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/week-orange-county-weather-permitting/

Pet Adoption, Black History Theater, Record Apps For UNC

ORANGE COUNTY – Carolina has offered admission to 6,036 of the 16,987 students who applied by the first deadline. Counting the first and second deadlines together, a total of 31,209 students sought admission to UNC this year, also a new record for the ninth straight year.

The applicants represent 94 North Carolina counties, 48 states and 27 countries including the U.S. Their average ACT score is 31; their average SAT score is 2044; and 85 percent are ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class.

UNC will make its second-deadline admissions decisions in March. The University expects about 4,000 new first-year students to enroll in August.

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February is Valentine’s Month, and to mark the occasion, the Orange County Animal Services Center is reducing adoption fees by nearly half for adult cats and dogs as well as select kittens and puppies.

Head to OrangeCountyNC.gov/AnimalServices to view photos of some of the available cats and dogs, or visit them in person at the Animal Services office on Eubanks Road. The reduced fees are valid all month long.

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A national professional touring theater company will be back in Chapel Hill this weekend, with a 45-minute show for kids to celebrate Black History Month.

Based out of Asheville, Bright Star Touring Theatre performs nearly a thousand shows a year. On Saturday, they’ll be in the Chapel Hill Public Library, putting on a play called “William’s Adventure in Black History.” It’s about a boy whose history book comes alive, giving him (and us) the chance to meet famous historical figures in person.

The show is designed from kids from grades from pre-K up to fifth grade. The curtain goes up at 3:00 p.m. Saturday, February 8, in Meeting Room B of the Chapel Hill Public Library.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/pet-adoption-black-history-theater-record-apps-unc/

County Commissioners Want Clarity On New Animal Control Rules

HILLSBOROUGH- A second attempt to streamline Orange County’s animal control ordinance hit a roadblock Tuesday as commissioners, residents and animal services staffers wrangled over what it means to be a watchdog.

“I’m not sure that we need a definition of watchdog, per se, but I think we need a definition of an animal that’s on its own property, minding its own business, when a human being comes on the property who is not minding their own business,” said Board Chair Barry Jacobs.

The current ordinance defines a watchdog as any dog that barks or threatens to bite an intruder, but Staff Attorney Annette Moore said that’s too broad.

“It’s meaningless, because there’s no prohibition in the ordinance against anybody having a dog that barks at a person,” Moore told the board.

Animal Services Advisory Board Vice-Chair Michelle Walker said the inclusion of the term in the ordinance only causes confusion when someone gets bitten.

“That’s the public safety concern,” said Walker. “We want to identify dogs that have shown propensity to bite unprovoked by someone who is not on property with any ill intent.”

But commissioners including Mark Dorosin argued that the ordinance needs some added flexibility on the question of who’s liable when a dog bites a trespasser.

“Under the current ordinance there’s a blanket ‘no-liability’ for an owner if a person comes onto their land, and I think the concern of the dog owners is that they don’t want the thing turned 180 degrees so there’s strict liability if their dogs bites anyone,” said Dorosin. “So what we have is these two extreme positions being staked out, neither of which I think serves the interests of the county.”

The ordinance would have required a unanimous vote to pass on the first reading. Instead, the board tabled the item for discussion in two weeks. At that time, commissioners say they want Animal Services staffers to come back with new ideas.

“There’s some galaxy of issues dealing with ‘watchdog’ and ‘trespass’ that I think we’re all asking you to try and address,” said Jacobs. “I think we need more clarity.”

The board was largely in favor of other portions of the new ordinance, including a plan to create a formal appeal process for residents whose animals have been deemed dangerous or vicious.

Commissioners will revisit the animal control ordinance on October 15.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/county-commissioners-want-clarity-on-new-animal-control-rules/

Rabies Confirmed After H’boro Homeowner Reports Room Full of Bats

HILLSBOROUGH- A  laundry room full of bats lead to Orange County’s ninth confirmed rabies case this year. Officials from Orange County Animal Services say a Hillsborough homeowner reported that a house cat was bitten by a bat on Tuesday.

The owners then found half a dozen bats in the laundry room, which they sealed off from the rest of the house. Animal Services officers removed five of the bats; a sixth bat escaped outside. Tests confirmed the bat killed by the cat was infected with rabies.

The cat was up-to-date on its vaccinations and the family is being evaluated for possible exposure.

Bats and raccoons are the primary source of rabies in North Carolina, but bats pose a greater risk to humans because of their small, hard-to-detect bite marks.

Animal Services Director Bob Marrotto urges residents to contact authorities if a bat is found to have been in a home overnight, or if family pet has contact with a bat.

You can learn more about rabies in Orange County here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/health/hillsborough-homeowner-reports-a-room-full-of-rabid-bats/