Officials probe year’s first rabies case

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Officials are investigating Wilson County’s first confirmed rabies case of 2019, which involved a raccoon.

Wilson County Animal Enforcement recently responded to Tonya Road, which is off Stagecoach Road outside Elm City near the Wilson-Nash county line.

The property owner saw a raccoon acting strange as it approached his horse pen, according to Wanda Samuel, Wilson County Sheriff’s Office chief of staff. She said the property owner shot the raccoon before Animal Enforcement arrived. Samuel said officials sent the raccoon’s corpse to the state lab for testing.

Alerts were sent to people who live in the area regarding the rabid animal.

There was no reported human exposure to the animal. The man who shot the raccoon wore leather gloves to pick it up, according to health officials.

An exposure to a rabid animal is defined as any “penetration of skin by teeth of a potentially rabid animal or contamination of scratches, abrasions, open wounds or mucous membranes with saliva or other potentially infectious material from a potentially rabid animal.”

Wilson County had no reported animal rabies cases in 2018. In 2017, Wilson County had two positive cases, both involving raccoons, according to the state.

Officials urge residents to be cautious and to call Wilson County Animal Enforcement at 252-237-8300 if they notice any animals demonstrating unusual behavior.