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.