Rabies outbreak feared in Cumberland County


Resident Robert Hunt told ABC11 he found one of the raccoons. He explained all he was trying to do was save his cat from a raccoon attack on the back porch.

"I went back inside and got my rifle. By then, both the cat and the raccoon were under the barn fighting," said Hunt. "So I smacked the side of the barn to get them from fighting, and the raccoon came out at me. So I had no choice but to shoot him because he came straight me."

The raccoon tested positive for rabies, which is the ninth case so far this year.

Animal Control Director John Lauby said she fears the numbers will get worse.

"The rabies spread in the wild population goes in cycles, up and down, in three year cycles, and I think it's coming around again," said Lauby.

Last week, animal control officers went house to house sounding the rabies warning after a dead bat was found at a home in Cypress Lakes.

On Saturday, a woman who lives along N.C. Highway 210 reported that her three dogs had gotten in a fight with a raccoon that later tested positive for rabies. She said the dog's rabies vaccinations had just gone out of date.

Now, two of the dogs will have to be quarantined for six months.

"It's increasing every day," said Lauby. "With all the rains and high water, we seem to be getting more exposures."

Lauby doesn't think we will have an outbreak as big as the rabies epidemic back in 1995 when there were more than 100 confirmed cases. However, he warned pet owners to make sure their animals' rabies vaccination is up to date.

"The entire thing we are doing at Animal Control is trying to protect citizens from rabies that is spread from wild animals through pets to them," said Lauby.

Lauby says the sooner pets get vaccinated, the safer they and their owners will be.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal:

  • Immediately wash the wound under running water for at least 10 minutes with lots of soap. Seek medical attention/advice.
  • Call Animal Control at (910) 321-6852 Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call the Sheriff's Office at (910) 323-1500 after 5 p.m., weekends and holidays.
  • Go to the emergency room.

Pet owners are subject to a fine of $100 for each unvaccinated dog or cat. Pets must be vaccinated when they reach the age of four months.

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