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The original item was published from 5/22/2023 5:13:37 PM to 6/1/2023 12:00:06 AM.

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Posted on: May 22, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Orange County receives first positive rabies test of 2023

Photo of raccoon

Orange County Animal Services has received a positive rabies test, according to the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. This incident involved a raccoon and occurred on Mt. Carmel Church Road in Chapel Hill, NC.  For more information and statistics about rabies in North Carolina, visit The North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services.

This case originated on Saturday, May 20, when a Chapel Hill resident’s dog had an altercation with a raccoon. Animal Control was contacted and they removed the raccoon for rabies testing.

For any possible exposure of humans to rabies, a Communicable Disease Nurse from the Orange County Health Department will evaluate the risk of rabies exposure. 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 of situation. If the dog involved in this incident has a valid rabies vaccination history, it is able to receive a booster rabies vaccination within the required window. When there is “a reasonable suspicion of exposure,” a dog, cat, or ferret with a valid vaccination history must receive a booster shot within 96 hours (four days). By contrast, an unvaccinated cat or dog must either be euthanized or quarantined for a period up to four months (or six months for a ferret).

Please make sure your pets are current on their rabies vaccinations. It is important for the health of your family and your pets. Rabies is a fatal viral infection. Your veterinarian is the best source of information on vaccinations for your pet. For more rabies information, you may review the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention.

In North Carolina and other areas, rabies is commonly found in raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, wolves, groundhogs, and beavers. A host species of rabies in our own region and others is the bat. 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). 


  • Rabies virus can be transmitted through secondary saliva exposure when handling an animal, so do not touch your pet without gloves if it has had any possible exposure to rabies. 
  • 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.
  • If a rabies suspect animal is alive, do not attempt to capture the animal. Keep visual contact with the animal until an Animal Control Officer 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 Orange County Animal Control immediately if you find a bat in your home even if there is no evidence of a bite.  

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