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Two raccoons test positive for rabies in Chatham County

By Carmine Rocco
Posted Thursday, June 30, 2005

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Chatham County, NC - Chatham County Animal Control sent two raccoons to the state public health lab last week and both tested positive for rabies. These raccoons were located in the Goldston area and south of Siler City.

Last Tuesday afternoon it was reported that a raccoon had an encounter with a family dog in their yard. The dog treed the raccoon and a neighbor shot and killed it. Animal control submitted the raccoon for testing. There was no direct exposure to the dog. It was fortunate that the dog had no contact with the raccoon because the dog was not vaccinated against rabies. State public health law specifies that
unvaccinated dogs and cats that make physical contact with a proven rabid animal or animal suspected of having rabies must be quarantined for six months or put down. When there is direct contact, the possibility exists that the pet can be exposed to the rabies virus either by a bite, a scratch or by the transfer of the rabid animal's saliva to the mucous membrane of the pet. If exposed, the pet could then become rabid within several weeks or months.

A second event occurred on Monday evening, when a dog broke through an electronic perimeter fence when he saw a raccoon. The dog attacked and killed the raccoon. The father and two children who were there each had limited contact with the dog afterwards. The mother called animal control Tuesday about 5:30 pm to report the incident. Animal control sent the raccoon to the lab Tuesday evening and the positive test results were reported Wednesday. Health department staff interviewed family members and the family was referred to their own physician for post exposure rabies evaluation. Again, it appears unlikely the dog was current with rabies vaccination.

Animal Control Supervisor John Sauls said, "Both of these cases illustrate the critical need for people to be certain that their dogs and cats are protected by a current rabies vaccination and that the owner has the vaccination certificate on file. Your dog and family's life could be at stake."

Animal Control's next rabies clinic is scheduled for Saturday, August 13, 2005 from 9 am to Noon at the Animal Shelter, vaccinations will be $5.00. Sauls asked that people whose pets are not currently vaccinated against rabies see their veterinarian now.

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that attacks the nervous system of animals and can be spread to humans and other animals through saliva.
The disease, if contracted, is fatal for animals and humans. Not all people exposed to rabies will get the disease. Receiving rabies shots after exposure can significantly help to reduce the chance of contracting the disease.

North Carolina law requires all cats and dogs to be immunized against rabies when they are over 4 months of age. The law also requires that all dogs and cats wear a collar with their rabies tag attached and that all animal bites be reported to local public health authorities.

For more information, contact Chatham County Animal Control at 542-7203 or Chatham County Public Health Department at 542-8220.

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