A state laboratory confirmed Orange County’s fifth case of rabies this year, when a bat was removed from a home in Mebane last week.
The county had 10 confirmed cases last year and 23 the year before.
The latest incident happened Wednesday when a bat was spotted inside the fireplace of a Mebane residence.
The residents immediately got out of the house and called Animal Control to remove the animal for rabies testing.
Two dogs and a cat were in different parts of the house when the bat was discovered, but because no one saw the bat enter, there was no way to rule out the possibility of exposure, officials said.
Because of the vaccination history of the pets, they were all able to receive booster shots under North Carolina’s rabies laws. 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. By contrast, an unvaccinated animal must either be killed or quarantined for a period up to four months.
A Health Department nurse contacted the residents to evaluate their risk of rabies exposure and whether they needed post-exposure treatment to protect themeselves from rabies.
Of the few cases of rabies in humans in the United States in recent years, most have been traced to bats, officials said. Because bat bites can be undetectable to the human eye, officials say it is critical that a bat inside an occupied dwelling be safely contained without human contact and that people immediately contact their animal control program or 911 if there is any possibility of exposure.
Orange County Animal Services will holds two low-cost rabies vaccination clinics this week:
▪ Thursday, Sept. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Eno River Farmers Market, 144 E Margaret Lane in Hillsborough
▪ Saturday, Oct. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon 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 http://orangecountync.gov/departments/animalservices/rabies.php
For more information, call Animal Services at 919.942.7387.