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Posted on: May 11, 2023

Animal awareness, safe practices encouraged following positive rabies test

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – As the summer weather warms up and activities move outdoors, residents are reminded to be mindful as they enjoy nature and encouraged not to engage with wildlife, particularly if it looks sick or is acting erratically.

Early this week, a bat in New Hanover County tested positive for rabies by the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health. The bat was reported to the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit as showing signs of illness or injury. The animal was captured and taken in for testing, confirming the presence of rabies in the bat.

“While we do not see rabies often in our community, we know that the threat is there as our local ecosystem has numerous mammals who could be potential carriers,” said Public Health Director Jon Campbell. “This case is a good reminder that this disease is out there, and families should be cautious if they are outside and cross paths with an animal that isn’t acting normally. Nature is a fun thing to experience, but maintaining a safe, respectful distance is important to keep you and your loved ones safe.”

If you encounter a wild animal that is showing signs of illness or aggression, immediately move away and report it to the New Hanover County Animal Services Unit by calling 910-798-7500. If you, a family member, or a pet are bitten, thoroughly wash the wound as soon as possible to remove saliva and contact the Animal Services Unit immediately. Postexposure medication for humans and re-vaccination of pets will likely be necessary as directed by medical professionals.

Residents are encouraged to keep their pet’s vaccination records up to date as required by county ordinance and should work to keep the space around their homes free from materials, like food or garbage, that may attract wildlife. Lastly, never touch a dead animal with your bare hands.

For more on rabies and precautions you can take, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the New Hanover County Animal Control Unit.  

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