Skunk attacks unvaccinated dog, placed under six month quarantine




BURLINGTON – The North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health in Raleigh has confirmed Alamance County’s fifth rabies case for the year and second confirmed case in less than a week.

On Tuesday evening, a skunk entered a fenced enclosure in the 1700 block of Whitney Burche Trail in the Pleasant Grove community.  A 3-year-old basset hound housed in fenced enclosure attacked the skunk.  The dog’s owner was able to shoot and kill the skunk during the confrontation.

The dog’s owner transported the skunk to Alamance County Animal Control on Wednesday, where it was subsequently sent off to state laboratory for testing.  The health department and animal control were notified on Thursday evening that the skunk tested positive for rabies.

Upon further investigation, the dog was found not to be current on its rabies vaccinations.  As an alternative to euthanization, state law allows for an animal to be quarantined at a facility approved by the local health director for a period up to six months.  The dog’s owner will be responsible for all costs during the quarantine period.

Earlier this week, two residents and a dog were attacked by a fox in a west Burlington neighborhood.  Both victims were treated at Alamance Regional Medical Center and are undergoing post-exposure treatment.  The dog that was attacked was current on its rabies vaccinations and has received a booster shot.

“In the past week, we’ve seen where a dog being current on its vaccinations saved its life and unfortunately, now we’re seeing the consequences of not having animal up-to-date, said Carl Carroll, Alamance County Health Department’s Environmental Health Director.  “These events clearly illustrate the importance of making sure dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.  If your pet’s rabies vaccination has lapsed, get the booster immediately to protect them and your family from contracting rabies.”

Thursday’s lab confirmation also marks the third case of rabies in the Pleasant Grove area of northern Alamance County in the past 90 days.

Since April 2010, thirteen documented rabies cases have occurred in Alamance County.  Of those thirteen, ten involved dogs were not up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. Eight of those dogs were euthanized, one was quarantined for six months and now another is under six month quarantine. The cost alone to quarantine two dogs for six months could provide rabies vaccinations for hundreds of dogs and cats.

As more people spend time outdoors, there is an increased likelihood of encountering wild and possibly rabid animals.  Therefore, everyone should be aware of their surroundings while working or playing outside.

For more information or questions about rabies control and vaccinations requirements, contact the health department’s Environmental Health office at (336) 570-6367.