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Two cases of rabies confirmed this week

Two unrelated cases of rabies were confirmed this week in Middlesex County, said Ricky Warren, the county’s chief animal control officer.

In the first incident, reported at Church View, a raccoon was found dead near a dog that was chained to a doghouse on April 17 or 18, said Warren, who added that all indications are that the dog killed the raccoon and was exposed to rabies.

The dog did not have a current rabies vaccination and the owner must decide on a 6-month strict quarantine or have the dog euthanized, said Warren.

The other case involved a rabid raccoon that wandered into a yard in the Wake area, and three dogs went after the raccoon in the bushes. One came out holding the dead raccoon in its mouth.

All three dogs are suspected of having contact with the rabid raccoon. Two of the dogs had valid rabies vaccinations and the third dog’s vaccination expired three months ago.

For the two dogs that had valid vaccinations, all that was needed was a booster shot. The dogs also will be observed for 45 days.

The dog that did not have a current rabies vaccination will have to be in strict quarantine for 6 months with no human contact, or the dog can be humanely euthanized, said Warren.

Rabies is 100 percent fatal once symptoms are present.

“This is going to be a year of increased rabies exposure,” said Warren, who noted that rabies is a virus that develops better in warm weather.

Warren advises pet owners to check the vaccination records of their dogs and cats. “It can be a matter of life and death; and it’s the law,” he said.

In March, a rabid skunk was the first confirmed 2009 rabies case in Middlesex County.

Rabid animals often lose fear of humans, move slowly, and animals that are normally nocturnal will come out of hiding during daylight, said Warren.

posted 04.29.2009

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