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2003 News from Mecklenburg County

June 3, 2003

Residents warned about increase in rabies cases

Charlotte, NC – The Mecklenburg County Health Department's Communicable Disease Control nurses will canvass two more area neighborhoods today, to let residents know about rabid animals found near their homes. These two animals—a raccoon and a bat—are the 18th and 19th rabid animals confirmed in Mecklenburg County so far this year.  

Laboratory tests were returned to the Health Department this morning, confirming the most recent rabid animal—a bat found at a home in the 28216 zip code. In this case, the baby bat fell from a tree and landed on one of the homeowners. Al Piercy, epidemiology specialist for the Health Department's communicable disease control program, says he will recommend that this person be treated for post-exposure to rabies and that the home and property be checked for more bats.

The animal confirmed yesterday was a raccoon found in the Derita neighborhood near Sugar Creek Rd. and I-85. The raccoon was seen around a number of stray cats in the area. Neighbors who have contacted strays in the area should call the Health Department at 704-336-4660.

Neighbors in both areas are being cautioned to be very aware of wildlife near their homes. Flyers are being delivered door-to-door alerting neighbors to the fact that a rabid animal has been found and that they should take precautions to minimize their exposure. Precautions include making sure pet vaccinations are up-to-date, keeping your distance from wild animals and not leaving pet food or open garbage cans to attract wildlife. A detailed list of precautions can be found at this link.

Last year, there were 27 rabid animals identified in the county. Piercy says he expects to see even more cases this year as the weather warms up.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease affecting the central nervous system. Rabies can be prevented but not cured. A healthy animal or human can get rabies when bitten, licked or scratched by a sick animal. The virus lives in the saliva. You can get rabies if you or another animal are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, or that animal's saliva gets into a cut or scratch.

North Carolina law requires animal bites to be reported by the person bitten, the owner of the biting animal, if applicable, and the physician who first treats the bite victim. For more information about rabies, or to report an animal bite, call the Mecklenburg County Health Department can be reached at 704-336-6440.

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