With a spike in cases reported already this year, one county in the east has rabies worries. Beaufort county has 4 confirmed rabies cases, and may have a 5th from Tuesday morning.
Beaufort county has had a handful of confirmed rabies cases this year. To keep safe, experts say you need to know the signs, and know what to do when you spot them.
Two raccoons and two foxes have tested positive for rabies in Beaufort county, prompting the county health department to issue this warning.
"Get away from the animal. Don't approach it. Don't go any where near it and call animal control," said Environmental Health Program specialist Eugene McRoy.
Sandy Woolard, Chief Animal Control Officer, responds to those calls, and they're some of the more frightening calls she receives because she says you can't predict how a sick animal will respond.
"With different communities coming up in wooded areas, you're going to see fox, you're going to see raccoon, but if you see a wild animal acting strange, call us," said Woolard.
So what is strange behavior for a wild animal? We often associate rabies with violent behavior, aggression, and foaming at the mouth.
"It can also be animals that are no longer showing you their wild side. They're coming up. They're being friendly. We had a situation where a skunk was coming up, rubbing between people's legs, playing with the puppies. That is not the kind of behavior we need to see from a wild animal. That is a sign of rabies," said Woolard.
Eugene McRoy says we can help keep rabid and other unwanted animals away from our property by taking simple steps.
"Don't keep trash out. Don't leave food out for your cats and dogs that other animals could come up and feed on. You want to do those things to keep these wild animals from coming in your yard," said McRoy
Be sure to vaccinate your pets against rabies, and keep those vaccinations up to date. It not only keeps them safe, but it's the law.
Just Tuesday morning, Animal Control was called out to Pamlico Plantations in Beaufort county for a raccoon that wouldn't leave a woman's porch. It's been sent to the lab in Raleigh and if it tests positive for rabies, which Woolard expects it will, that will make 5 confirmed cases this year.
4-5 cases may not seem like a lot, but last year there were only 2 confirmed cases in Beaufort county the entire year. Two of this year's cases happened on or near school properties. No one was harmed in either situation.