Rabies is a preventable disease that is caused by a virus. The virus is spread to animals and people through the saliva of an infected animal. This happens most often when people or animals are exposed through bites or scratches from an infected animal.

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 4 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–keep 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.
Cary​ ​919-319-4517
Garner​ ​919-772-8810   Ext  6979
Holly Springs ​919-557-9111
Raleigh ​919-831-6311
​All other places in Wake County ​919-856-6911

 More information about rabies

North Carolina Division of Public Health