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.