ORANGE COUNTY, NC (June 2, 2016)—Orange County Animal Services has received its second positive rabies test result of the year, according to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This incident involved a raccoon.  The County recorded a total of 10 positive cases last year and 23 the year before. 

The case originated on Wednesday, June 1, when a Chapel Hill resident discovered a raccoon that was alive but injured on the roadside.  The resident picked the raccoon up in a towel and put it in the back of his truck to head toward a veterinary office.  Animal Control was called and removed the raccoon to have it tested for rabies.  No domesticated animals were involved in the case.

A Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department is working with the resident to evaluate whether they are at risk of rabies exposure. Of concern is the fact that the resident directly handled the towel without gloves and had possible open wounds on his hands at the time of handling.  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.

Raccoons are a host (or reservoir) species to rabies in our area and the region. Any other animal that becomes rabid in this area is likely the victim of the “spillover effect.” When an animal other than the dominant reservoir species, which is the raccoon in North Carolina, contracts the virus, it is called “spillover.” The other species that are most susceptible to getting rabies from raccoons are dogs and cats, groundhogs, skunks, and foxes.

The other host species of rabies in our own region and others is bats. Of the few cases of rabies in humans in our country in recent years, most have been traced to bats. If there is any possibility of exposure from a bat, it is critical that citizens immediately contact their animal control program. If an incident involving a bat – or other rabies vector, such as a raccoon or skunk – should occur outside regular hours of service, an Animal Control Officer should be reached right away through Emergency Communications (9-1-1).


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

  • Saturday, June 11, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Animal Services Center, 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.  

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