Health Officials with Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) recently announced that a raccoon from the Beaver Lake area has been confirmed to have rabies.
The raccoon was taken to Buncombe County Animal Control on Wednesday, October 4th and was from Pine Tree Road in Asheville. Testing of the animal by the North Carolina State Lab resulted in a positive test for the rabies virus. The raccoon was exposed to a possible stray medium-sized, gray, domestic longhair female cat in the neighborhood. The cat is being placed in quarantine.
“Rabies is a serious disease that can be fatal without immediate treatment. Any person that thinks they may have come into contact with this cat should contact Communicable Disease,” said Jessica Silver, BCHHS Environmental Health Director. The number for BCHHS Communicable Disease is (828) 250-5109.
Rabid animals are unpredictable, aggressive, and can attack people and other animals. Wild animals with rabies may move slowly or act as if they are tame. A pet that is usually friendly may snap at you or may try to bite. Some signs of rabies in animals are changes in an animal’s behavior, general sickness, problems swallowing, increased drooling, and aggression.
Local officials are urging residents in the area to do the following:
- Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you believe you or your child came in contact with the raccoon and/or cat.
- Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you believe your pet came in contact with the raccoon and/or cat. Be sure that pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations, per North Carolina law.
- Avoid wild or unfamiliar animals: keep children and pets away from wild or strange animals, keep your pet on a leash when out for a walk, and do not rescue pets or touch wild animals.
- If your pet comes in contact with a wild or strange animal, avoid contact with both animals. If this occurs, residents in Buncombe County should call the Buncombe County Sheriff’s office at 250-6670. City of Asheville residents can call the Asheville Police Department at 252-1110.
If you have been bitten by any animal:
- Clean your wound thoroughly for at least 10 minutes with soap and water.
- Immediately contact Animal Control if you or your pet is bitten to assist in capturing the animal for observation and/or rabies testing.
- See a medical provider for wound evaluation and possible treatment.
“Post-exposure vaccines” can prevent the transmission of the rabies disease if administered within 72 hours. If a person bitten by an animal with rabies does not get the recommended rabies post-exposure treatment, they will die, usually within just a few days after symptoms develop.
Any medical provider who cares for someone who has been bitten by an animal must report the animal bite within 24 hours. The animal bite report form is available on our website at www.buncombecounty.org – under the “I Want to Report” section at the top of the homepage. If the animal is caught and tested and does not have rabies, you will not need to have post-exposure shots.
In Buncombe County, contact BCHHS Communicable Disease at (828) 250-5109 for a consultation related to rabies exposure.