It is a requirement in North Carolina that all cats, dogs and ferrets over 4 months of age be vaccinated against rabies. It is also a requirement that these animals wear a valid rabies tag at all times. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in a fine or fee.
Vaccinations are available from any licensed veterinarian. Please check this page to see more information about low-cost rabies clinics that may be offered by Orange County, NC.
Should your pet come in contact with an animal that might be considered a rabies carrier, contact Animal Control immediately at 919-942-PETS (7387). In the event of contact is after regular business hours, call 911.
- State Veterinary Public Health/Epidemiology
- State Veterinary Public Health Bulletin Board
- National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Department of Human Health and Safety Important News Release About Bats and Rabies from July 2010 (PDF)
- Confirmed positive rabies cases for Orange County, 1996 to 2006 and 2007 to 2019
NC Rabies Results And Testing
Animals are only submitted for testing if there’s good reason to think that there could have been a rabies exposure. This means that Animal Services could impound but not submit for testing a sick fox even if this animal had neurological signs consistent with rabies. Why? Because there has not been any contact with a person or domestic animal and thus there is no need to decide whether a person needs shots (aka post-exposure prophylaxis) or a dog or cat needs a rabies booster shot or isolation for the rabies incubation period.
Wild animals that can carry rabies and that have had contact with a dog or a cat are not always tested. Generally speaking, they are only tested if the dog or cat with which they had contact does not have a documented rabies vaccination history. In these situations, the test results are used to decide whether the dog or cat needs to be isolated for the rabies incubation period. On the other hand, a wild animal that can carry rabies is not submitted for testing if the dog or cat with which it had contact has a documented history of rabies vaccinations. The reason is that it is much less expensive for the dog or cat to get a rabies booster shot than it is to perform a fluorescent antibody test on the animal to determine if it could have been shedding rabies when it had contact with the dog or the cat.
Test results do not tell us very much about the natural occurrence of rabies in a locale or larger area. This is so because only wild animals that have had contact with a person or domestic animal are considered for testing since the purpose of testing is to decide if post-exposure measures need to be taken for the health of the public and other domestic animals
The observations above are applicable to the table example below (provided by NC Department of Health and Human Services):