On July 25, 2020, the North Carolina State Laboratory notified Caldwell County Animal Control that a raccoon submitted for testing and was infected with the rabies virus. The raccoon found in the Oak Hill community marks the fifth confirmed rabies case in the county this year.
Residents are reminded to keep their pets rabies vaccinations current. Pets should also wear a collar and their rabies tag when outdoors. Animal Control offers one-year rabies vaccinations for $8. Pet owners can call Animal Control at (828) 757-8625 to set up an appointment.
Rabies is a viral disease of the central nervous system that is almost always fatal once symptoms begin. The virus is found in the saliva of an animal with rabies and is usually transmitted by a bite or scratch. Rabies is common in NC wildlife. Raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats are the most common carriers of the disease. In 2018, the latest year with statistic available, there were 142 rabid raccoons and 55 rabid foxes identified in the state. There were also 24 rabid bats and 56 rabid skunks identified. These animals can transmit rabies to dogs and cats; 13 cats and 3 dogs were identified with rabies last year. Because rabies is fatal and can also be transmitted to people vaccination of dogs and cats against rabies is required by law in NC.
People can protect themselves and their pets from rabies by taking a few simple precautions:
- Make sure all your companion animals are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. They should always wear their license tags.
- Supervise your pets to prevent exposure.
- If a bat is found inside your home, you should contact Animal Control.
- If your animal is exposed to a potentially rabid animal wear gloves to protect yourself from the infectious saliva that may be on your animal’s coat.
- Teach your children to stay away from wild animals, including bats or animals they don’t know.
- Avoid attracting wildlife to your home by removing food sources such as food scraps and removing cat and dog food at night.
- Bats and other wild animals are scavengers and search for sources of food. It is important to keep all garbage containers sealed tightly and especially areas of high food disposal. This also pertains to pet food bowls. When your pet finishes eating, clean out the bowl to avoid other animals from getting the food and keep discarded foods inaccessible to animals to lessen the chance of them coming to your residence or business to look for food.
If there are any questions concerning rabies and/or receiving a rabies vaccination, please contact the Animal Control Division of the Caldwell County Health Department at 829 Fairview Drive SW, Lenoir, NC 28645 or call 828-757-8625. If there is an emergency situation outside the normal working hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, please notify the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at 828-758-2324.