About Rabies: Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
Rabies in Humans: Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt and appropriate medical care. Without medical care the rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death.
Symptoms: The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort.
As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include:
- Hydrophobia (Fear of Water)
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Hyper salivation (Increase in Saliva)
- Slight or Partial Paralysis
Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
Rabies Prevention and Control
The Rabies Prevention and Control Program evaluates all potential exposures to rabies in humans and animals. The Durham County Department of Public Health works together with the Animal Services Division of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Protection Society of Durham to ensure state rabies laws are followed.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, follow these guidelines:
• Wash all wounds and contact areas thoroughly with soap and water.
• Contact your physician and/or seek medical care.
• Call the Durham County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services to report the incident (919) 560-0900. North Carolina law requires animal bites to be reported by the person bitten (the victim), the owner of the biting animal, and the physician who first treats the bite victim.
• If there is no risk of further injury, isolate the animal until Animal Services arrives to investigate.
If an animal attacks your pet, or if you come into contact with a wild animal, dead or alive, follow these guidelines:
• Put on gloves before touching your pet; do not touch the wild animal.
• Isolate your pet from other animals and people.
• Call your veterinarian. Your pet may need a rabies booster shot immediately.
• Call Durham County Sheriff’s Office Animal Services at (919) 560-0900 to investigate and capture/secure the wild animal (if possible) for testing.
High risk carriers of the rabies virus are:
How to protect your pet from rabies:
- Maintain current rabies vaccinations on all dogs and cats three months of age and older. Check with your veterinarian.
- Confine all pets or keep them on a leash. They will be less likely to come into contact with rabid wildlife.
- Spay or Neuter your pets to prevent unwanted pets that may not get regular rabies vaccinations.
Rabies Vaccination Requirements for Cats & Dogs:
An animal is considered currently vaccinated if it has either:
- Been vaccinated for rabies within the last 12 months; or,
- Received 2 rabies vaccinations within 12 months of each other and the latter of these 2 rabies vaccinations having been with a 3-year vaccine and 3 years have not passed from the date of the latter vaccination.