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State Public Health Officials Urge Caution For Anyone Potentially Exposed To Rabid Donkey At Durham County Farm

Release Date: April 15, 2010
Contact: Mark Van Sciver, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – Dr. Carl Williams, state veterinarian of Public Health of the North Carolina Division of Public health, is urging anyone who visited Elodie Farms, Rougement, Durham County after March 10 and had contact with a donkey with confirmed rabies infection to consult with their physician or local health department to determine if rabies vaccination is recommended.  The donkey died on April 8.

“The donkey with rabies may have been able to transmit the infection to people as early as March 10,” Dr. Williams said.  “The animal was capable of transmitting the virus even before it became visibly ill. Anyone who visited the farm and may have had contact with the donkey during the period from March 10 to April 8 should contact their physician or local health department for advice.”

Rabies is a viral disease that is usually transmitted from the bite of an infected animal. It can also be transmitted from contact with the saliva of an infected animal through a cut or break on a person’s skin, or by touching the infected animal’s saliva then touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Rabies is very common in wildlife in North Carolina. In 2009, there were over 250 cases involving raccoons. According to Dr. Williams, the North Carolina State Laboratory determined that the donkey was infected with the variant of rabies that infects raccoons.

Wildlife rabies is common, other animals and people are often exposed to the disease. Rabies is frequently transmitted from raccoons to other wild and domestic animals, including dogs, cats, horses, goats and cattle. Fortunately rabies in humans is rare and vaccine-preventable. The disease can also be prevented by regularly vaccinating domestic animals. Consult your veterinarian to ensure that your pets are currently vaccinated against this disease and ensure your pets receive a booster vaccine following any exposure to rabies.

A list of all local health departments and their phone numbers is available online at: http://www.ncalhd.org/county.htm.  For more information about rabies online in North Carolina: http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/vet.html.