WILMINGTON, NC (NEWS RELEASE) -— New Hanover County Animal Control Services has confirmed the fourth case of rabies for the year. ACS officers were called to a Rabbit Run Road residence on Saturday where a wild raccoon had fought with the homeowner's dogs. The dogs were current on their rabies vaccines and have received booster shots. The owners were also notified that they may have been exposed to the virus from handling the dogs.
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.