Hillsborough dog kills rabid skunk near intersection linked to previous infection

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A skunk in Orange County tested positive for the rabies virus Tuesday, according to a release from Orange County Animal Services.

The skunk, found near the intersection of Walnut Grove Church Road and NC-86, marks the third positive rabies test result in the county this year. Another skunk tested positive for the virus near the same intersection earlier in February.

Animal Services said a Hillsborough resident's dog killed a skunk in her yard. The woman called Animal Control, who took the skunk for rabies testing.

The woman's dog had a current rabies vaccination. According to state law, Animal Services said, the dog must receive a booster vaccine within four days.

Animal Services also said the woman and another family member touched the dog after exposure to the skunk. Because rabies can be transmitted through secondary exposure, Orange County health officials must evaluate them for risk of rabies exposure. Health officials recommend wearing gloves before touching any animal that may have come into contact with the virus.

According to Animal Services, skunks in the area usually contract rabies virus from the dominant host species-- raccoons. Other animals that can get rabies from raccoons include dogs, cats, groundhogs, foxes and bats. Most human rabies cases in the United States in recent years have been traced to bats.

Animal Services said residents should call them immediately if they find a bat in their home, even if there is no evidence of a bite. Residents should not try to release the bat.

Orange County Animal Services will host two low-cost rabies vaccination clinics in the next two months:
  • Thursday March 26, 2020, 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. at Eno River Farmer's Market in Hillsborough
  • Saturday, April 25, 2020, 2 p.m.- 5 p.m. at Cedar Grove Community Center in Hillsborough
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