In 2011 there were 429 positive rabies cases in the entire state of North Carolina. Halfway through 2012, North Carolina’s Orange County is already filing its eighth case. (In 2011, Orange County saw a total of 12 positive rabies cases.)
Most people would assume the areas of North Carolina with the most positive rabies cases would be more rural, such as parts of Western North Carolina that are exposed to more wildlife. However, last year the county with the most rabies cases was Mecklenberg—home to the booming city of Charlotte.
Raccoons consistently continue to lead with the most number of positive rabies tests, with more than double the number of cases of skunks and fox combined. How can you tell if an animal has rabies? The first stage of rabies can last up to six months and the disease usually goes unnoticed. The most dangerous stage—the furious stage—lasts just a few short days. It’s the time when the animal exposed to the disease becomes uncontrollable and aggressive. The notorious “foaming at the mouth” symptom is a sign of the final stage of rabies—which also lasts a few days and results in the animal’s death.
If you see a raccoon during the day, keep your family, friends and pets away from the creature. Raccoons are typically nocturnal animals so any out-of-the-ordinary behavior should be a sign to act with caution. The positive rabies cases in Orange County involving raccoons reported homeowners’ dogs attacking the rabid raccoon—by law these dogs need to be quarantined or euthanized.