More than 200 rabies cases in NC

Aug. 15, 2014 @ 03:53 PM

Warren County Animal Control, which euthanized a dog exposed to rabies last week, is reminding pet owners to keep their animals’ rabies vaccinations up to date.

Elma Rae Greene, director of Warren County Animal Control, said a local dog was exposed to rabies through contact with a rabid raccoon.

“We don’t know if the dog killed the raccoon or came upon after it died but, either case, the dog came in contact with a known rabid animal,” she said.

She said the dog had an expired rabies vaccination and was humanely euthanized at Warren County’s animal shelter.

Greene said the most important thing pet owners can do is vaccinate their animals.

“First and foremost, all dogs and cats should be kept up to date on their rabies vaccine,” she said. “We know we have rabies in our wildlife population. We have an epidemic in the raccoon population all up and down the eastern seaboard.”

The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health reported 205 animals testing positive for rabies from Jan. 1 to Aug. 7 — including one bobcat, five cats, two dogs, 19 bats, 24 foxes, 31 skunks and 123 raccoons.

There have been two reported rabies cases in Granville County so far this year and three in Vance County.

Wild animals contributed 95 percent of all positive rabies cases, according to the state Laboratory of Public Health.

Greene said dogs and cats not current on their rabies vaccination that come into contact with a rabid animal are either quarantined for 6 months or euthanized.

North Carolina law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets four months of age and older be kept current on their rabies vaccination.

Owners who fail to vaccinate pets can face fines and criminal charges.

“If we keep our pets inoculated, we keep a barrier between the rabies population and the human population,” she said.

Greene said Warren County is experiencing an increase in the number of reports of wild animals coming in close contact with humans and pets this summer.

This happens because residents toss out food for them to eat, she said.

“By throwing food items out into the yard, people are attracting these animals that could carry rabies,” she said. “Don’t throw food scraps out there, and don’t feed strays. You are not doing them a favor at the end of the day.”

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.