WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A raccoon in New Hanover County has tested positive for rabies. The Animal Services Unit got word from the state lab today of the positive test of the animal found on Sycamore Avenue in Castle Hayne.
Yesterday, Animal Services was called to pick up the raccoon that had fought with several dogs on Monday. The dogs were handled afterwards by their owner, which resulted in potential exposure for them. The dogs do have a current rabies vaccination.
After ASU got word of the positive test result, it notified the victim, and ASU staff is waiting for verification that the exposed dogs received a booster rabies vaccine. ASU will canvass the area to educate the public about the importance of their pets having a current rabies vaccine.
Animals that have a current rabies vaccination at the time of exposure should be re-boostered within five days (2009 Centers for Disease Control guidelines) of exposure. Recommendation is to euthanize exposed animals that are not current with their rabies vaccination. 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.
Please maintain a current rabies vaccination for your pet; this is the primary defense against the spread of this fatal disease.
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. Personal pets should not be handled without protection directly after being exposed to wildlife, due to the potential for carrying residual saliva from the infected animal. You should stay away from any animal that you have not been cleared to hold or pet, including owned dogs or cats, and especially wildlife. Feeding wildlife is ill advised. Prevention is better than reaction after the fact of exposure.
This is the fifth positive case for New Hanover County this year.