Sign up for Durham County news in your inbox

Rabid Skunk Found Near Little River Regional Park

2nd animal rabies case of 2017

Post Date:03/03/2017

DURHAM, N.C. – The State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed the county’s second (2nd) animal rabies case of 2017.  A rabid skunk was discovered off Rougemont Road in a rural area near Little River Recreational Area.  No known human contact has been identified. 

“Rabies occurs most often in wild animals like skunks, raccoons, bats and foxes, which can then transmit the virus to domestic animals” said Dr. Arlene Seña, medical director, Durham County Department of Public Health.  “Therefore, residents should remember to maintain and update their pet’s vaccination records and to notify us immediately if they encounter an animal behaving erratically.”

Public Health works with the Animal Services division of the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and the Animal Protection Society (APS) of Durham to investigate suspected cases of rabies in animals and potential rabies exposures in humans.

In animals, common symptoms of rabies may include decreased energy and appetite, and vomiting.  Signs progress within days to weakness, seizures, difficulty breathing and swallowing, excessive salivation, aggression, and ultimately death.  Visit the NC Health and Human Services Fact Sheet for more details.

Exposure to wild animals is the primary way people, domestic animals, and livestock contract rabies.  Rabid raccoons, foxes, and skunks typically show no fear of people, may appear with uncoordinated movements, and be active during the day despite their typical nature to be more active at dusk.  In urban areas, they may attack domestic pets.

The most common mode of rabies virus transmission is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected animal.  Remember these tips to prevent exposure to rabies through wild animals:

  • Never approach, handle, or feed wild or stray animals.
  • Do not leave pets unattended or allow them to roam free.
  • Keep dogs, cats, ferrets, and livestock vaccinated against rabies.
  • Remember, birdfeeders will attract squirrels, foxes, and other mammals.
  • Secure garbage, and remember that composting also attracts wildlife.
  • If you see a wild animal that is behaving abnormally or appears injured or in distress, do not approach or handle it. Notify Durham County Animal Services immediately by calling 919-560-0900.

Human rabies deaths are rare, and rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt appropriate medical care and vaccination, if exposed.  If you are bitten by a possibly rabid animal or get its saliva on an existing scratch, wound, or mucous membrane, wash the wound or exposed area immediately for 15 minutes with soap and clean, running water.  Then seek medical attention to determine if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is required.

For more information about rabies, call 919-560-7896 or visit  Pet owners with questions about vaccination requirements should contact Durham County Animal Services at 919-560-0900.



Return to full list >>