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.