N.C. – Today is
World Rabies Day and state health officials encourage North
Carolinians to be aware of rabies and take preventive measures,
including vaccination of their pets according to law.
Rabies is a deadly viral disease of warm-blooded animals that attacks
the central nervous system and inevitably leads to death. In North
Carolina, raccoons and bats are the main carriers for rabies virus.
Unvaccinated domestic animals, like dogs, cats, horses and livestock
may also be infected.
Any mammal infected with rabies poses a human health risk, and in the
early stages of the disease it may not be apparent that an animal is
infected with rabies. In 2015, there were 339 cases of animal rabies
reported in North Carolina. Of these 94 percent were wild
your pets and keeping the vaccinations current is essential to
preventing rabies,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Carl
Williams, DVM. “North Carolina rabies law requires all owned
dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated against rabies by four months
of age and remain vaccinated throughout their lifetime.”
NC law requires counties to offer at least one low cost rabies
vaccination clinic per year. Animal Control Agency listings can be
found here: http://www.ncarca.com/AGENCY.htm.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division
of Public Health encourages the following precautions:
Vaccinate pets against rabies.
Supervise pets outdoors, and keep all pets on
Do not feed pets outdoors. Pet food attracts
Do not feed wildlife, feral cats or feral
Secure garbage cans with wildlife-proof lids.
Leave young wildlife alone. If you find a
juvenile animal that appears to need help, it is best to leave
it alone and call a wildlife professional.
If you are
bitten or scratched by any animal that could possibly have rabies:
Clean the wound well with soap and flush with
running water for 15 minutes and contact your doctor. The doctor
will determine if a series of rabies vaccinations will be
Note the location and a description of the
animal to provide to animal control.
Do not try to catch any wild animal that
bites or scratches you. Call animal control immediately to
capture the animal for rabies testing.
If the animal is someone's pet, get the
owner's name and address and provide them to the animal control
officer. Any mammal can transmit rabies. The animal that bit
you, depending on the species and circumstances, must be
evaluated or tested for rabies.
World Rabies Day is recognized each year on Sept. 28,
and is a day of global public health observance and a time to raise
awareness to improve rabies prevention and control efforts. For more
information about rabies, including facts and figures on rabies,