Rabies is a preventable disease that is caused by a virus. The deadly virus spreads to people from the saliva of infected animals. The rabies virus is usually transmitted through a bite or scratch.
When the rabies virus enters the body, its spreads through the nerves to the brain and spinal cord. Once rabies has attacked the brain, it is almost always fatal.
Protect yourself and your family
- Stay away from animals you don't know. Teach children to do the same. "Love your own, leave others alone!" is a good rule to remember.
- Report stray animals to your local animal control office.
- Don't touch, keep or feed wild animals.
Protect your pets
- Make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations. North Carolina law requires owners of dogs, cats and ferrets to have their animals vaccinated against rabies, beginning at four months of age.
- Do not allow your pets to run free. Supervise them when they are outside to avoid contact with wild animals.
- Call your area animal control to report stray animals; they could be unvaccinated and sick.
- Spay or neuter pets. This helps to keep them from straying.
Protect your home
- Don't attract wild animals by keeping trash can lids on tight.
- Don't leave pet food outside.
- Cap chimneys and seal places animals can hide.
- Call your area animal control office if you find a bat in your home. Never touch a bat. If you find a bat on the floor or ground, cover it with something until animal control arrives or tells you what to do. Call your doctor or the Wake County Human Services Communicable Disease Program at 919-250-4462 if you have been bitten or if you wake up with a bat in your room.
If you are bitten
- Wash the wound well with soap and water.
- Go to the doctor because treatment may be needed. There is a series of vaccines to prevent rabies for people who may have been exposed to rabies. You may also need antibiotics, or a tetanus shot.
- Report the bite to your area animal control office.
- Report the bite to the Wake County Human Services Communicable Disease Program at 919-250-4462.
If your pet is bitten
- Put gloves on before touching your pet. Be careful, injured pets may bite.
- Call your veterinarian or your area animal control office. Your pet must have a booster rabies shot within 72 hours if it is exposed to an animal that could be rabid.
Wake County Area Animal Control Offices
Rabies Laws and Rules
- NC Rabies Laws
General Statutes Chapter 130A – Public Health Article 6-Communicable Diseases. See Sections 184 through 201.
- NC Rabies Rules
Rabies Rules: Administrative Code Title 10A – Health and Human Services, Chapter 41 – Epidemiology Health, Subchapter G. See Sections .0101 - .0103.