First Reports of Rabies in Cary in 2011

Story by Leslie Huffman. Photo by Javier Sanchez.

Cary, NC – Town of Cary Animal Control officials have confirmed this year’s first reported rabies case in Cary. A homeowner living in the Triangle Forest subdivision near Marilyn Circle reported an injured raccoon on her property.

Cary Police responded and transported the dead raccoon for testing at the State Laboratory of Public Health in Raleigh. The raccoon was infected with the rabies virus. So far, no injuries to other animals or humans have been reported.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.

What is Rabies?

Once exposed, the rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. As the disease progresses, symptoms that may appear include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.

What is the Risk to My Pet?

Any animal bitten or scratched by either a wild, carnivorous mammal or a bat that is not available for testing should be regarded as having been exposed to rabies. Be sure to wear gloves and other protective clothing when helping injured pets, and stay away from any bodily fluids, especially saliva.

The CDC recommends that any unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released. Dogs and cats that are currently vaccinated are kept under observation for 45 days.

All pet owners should visit their veterinarian with their pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.

If You See a Suspicious Animal

Cary citizens are reminded to use caution when dealing with any animal that may be suspicious or may have come in contact with a suspicious animal. If you suspect a rabid animal, contact Cary Animal Control immediately at (919) 319-4517 or call your local veterinarian.

Seek medical help immediately if you or your pets are bitten by any animal, and notify officials as soon as possible.