An unvaccinated dog was surrendered for euthanasia when a skunk found outside a Hillsborough home last week tested positive for rabies.
The skunk was Orange County’s third confirmed rabies case this year. Last year the county had a total of 10 cases and 23 the year before.
The county will hold its next $10 rabies vaccination clinic Thursday, July 21, at the Orange County Animal Services Center in Chapel Hill.
The latest case happened Wednesday, July 6, when residents in Hillsborough saw their two dogs with a skunk inside a fenced yard. They removed the dogs from the situation and called Animal Control to come get the skunk for rabies testing.
One of the two dogs had not yet been vaccinated against rabies, county officials said, and under state law it must be killed or quarantined for four months at the owner’s expense.
The other dog was currently vaccinated against rabies and received the required booster shot within the allotted time frame. When there is “a reasonable suspicion of exposure,” a dog, cat, or ferret with a current vaccination or a documented vaccination history must receive a booster shot within 96 hours (4 days) of the exposure, according to a county news release.
A county nurse has spoken with the residents to evaluate their own risk, since they had contact with the dogs after the incident, according to the release.
“Prevention is the best measure for effective rabies control for pets and people alike,” said Bob Marotto, director of Animal Services. “Ensuring cats, dogs, and ferrets are current on their rabies vaccinations is one of the most important responsibilities of a pet owner, since it can quite literally be the difference between life and death for their pet.”
Skunks are not the dominant host species of rabies and typically contract it from a host species, most often the raccoon, in what is called a “spillover effect.” The other species that are most susceptible to getting rabies from raccoons are dogs and cats, groundhogs and foxes.
The other host species of rabies in the region is bats. Of the few cases of rabies in humans in the United States in recent years, most have been traced to bats. If an incident involving a bat or other possible rabid animal occurs people should call Animal Control at 919-942-7387 or 911.
Orange County holds low-cost clinics throughout the year. At the June 11 clinic, 48 dogs and 61 cats were vaccinated against rabies, bringing the year’s total to 383 pets.
For more information, including a complete list of clinic dates see http://bit.ly/1IZiLwW
The next low-cost rabies vaccination clinic is from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, July 21, at the Animal Services Center, 1601 Eubanks Road in Chapel Hill.
The cost for rabies vaccinations is $10. Find clinic dates for the rest of 2016 at http://bit.ly/1IZiLwW
For more information, call 919-942-7387.