ORANGE COUNTY, NC (May 5, 2016)—Orange County Animal Services has received its first positive rabies test result of the year, according to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This incident involved a bat.  The County recorded a total of 10 positive cases last year and 23 the year before. 

The case originated on Wednesday, May 1, when Hillsborough residents discovered a dead bat near their cat on the back patio.  The residents bagged the bat and called Animal Control to have it removed and tested for rabies. 

Fortunately, the cat involved in this case was currently vaccinated against rabies and has received a booster shot pursuant to North Carolina’s rabies laws.  When there is “a reasonable suspicion of exposure,” a dog,  cat or ferret with a current vaccination must receive a booster shot within 96 hours (4 days).  By contrast, an unvaccinated animal must either be destroyed or quarantined for a period up to four (4) months. 

A Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department is contacting the residents to evaluate whether they are at risk of rabies exposure. Of concern is the possibility of secondary exposure from the owners having contact with the cat after the incident.  As is always the case, a decision about the post-exposure prophylaxis that protects people from rabies is based upon an assessment of all the factors involved in this type situation.

“Prevention is the best measure for effective rabies control for pets and people alike,” said Bob Marotto, director of Animal Services.  “Quarantines are done at the cost of the owner and can be expensive, so ensuring cats, dogs, and ferrets have had their rabies vaccinations and can receive a booster instead is always preferable for the pets and people involved.”

Of the few cases of rabies in humans in the United States in recent years, most have been traced to bats.  If there is any possibility of exposure from a bat, it is critical that the bat be safely contained without human contact and that citizens immediately contact their animal control program. If an incident involving a bat – or other rabies vector – should occur outside regular office hours, an Animal Control Officer can be reached by calling 9-1-1.

The other dominant host species in our area is the raccoon.  Other animals can contract rabies a host species, a process known as the “spillover effect.”  The other species that are most susceptible to getting rabies from raccoons are dogs and cats, groundhogs, foxes and skunks.



The next Low-Cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic will take place:

  • Thursday, May 12, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Eno River Farmer’s Market, located at 144 E Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.  

The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10.  Clinic dates for the rest of 2016 are posted at

For more information, please call Orange County Animal Services at 919.942. 7387.


  • It is a law in North Carolina that dogs, cats and ferrets older than four months must have a current and valid rabies vaccination at all times
  • Orange County’s ordinance also requires that all pets wear a rabies vaccination tag
  • Pets with current rabies vaccinations that may have been exposed to rabies must be revaccinated within four days (96 hours) or they will be treated as unvaccinated pets
  • Rabies can be transmitted through secondary exposure as well, so do not touch your animal without gloves if it has had any possible exposure to a rabies vector
  • If a rabies suspect is alive, do not attempt to capture the animal.  Keep visual contact with the animal until Animal Control arrives. 
  • If you discover a bat inside your house, be sure not to release it, but do remove yourself and any animals from the area
  • Always call Animal Control immediately if you find a bat in your home even if there is no evidence of a bite