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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — Another raccoon has tested positive for the rabies virus after the animal tangled with two dogs in the dog owner’s yard. Animal Control officers were called to a Johns Creek Road residence on Wednesday. Both dogs were current on their rabies vaccinations, however since the owner handled the pets without protective gloves, he may have been exposed. This is the 6th confirmed rabies case of 2011 in New Hanover County and the 133 case since the disease reappeared in the early 1990s.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend animals that are not current on their rabies vaccinations be destroyed. Pets with up to date vaccinations should be re-boostered within five days. Pets should never be handled without protective gloves after being exposed to wildlife, due to the potential for carrying residual saliva from the infected animal. All pets should be vaccinated as a primary defense against the spread of rabies.

There are three primary routes of transmission of the rabies virus, which is carried in the saliva of the infected animal: 1) the primary route of transmission is through a bite which breaks the skin of the victim, 2) salivary contact to an open, fresh wound, or, 3) salivary contact to the mucous membranes of a potential victim.

When dealing with primary rabies vectors (raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats) or unknown animals, such as wildlife, it is recommended that the animal be handled with protective gloves to prevent viral transmission. People should stay away from any animal that they have not been cleared to hold or pet, including owned dogs or cats, and especially wildlife.

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