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Orange County’s ?rst rabies case found in goat

An Orange County goat tested positive for rabies last week — the first positive case in the county this year.

Marotto said the goat was then sent to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for testing, where it was found to have rabies.

Tom Ray, director of Livestock Health Programs, oversaw the test.

He said the case went to his department because the goat was considered livestock and not a household pet.

Marotto said he assumes the immediate source of the rabies was a skunk the goat’s owners noticed in their field prior to the start of the goat’s strange behavior.

He said a DNA test will eventually be performed at the State Laboratory of Public Health to determine the original source of the rabies.

“There are two types of rabies — dumb and furious. The goat most likely had the dumb form,” Ray said.

He said dumb rabies normally affects livestock, causing them to stand in unnatural positions and chew food strangely.

The furious form, the more well-known type of rabies, causes aggressive behavior.

Ray said while owners of dogs, cats and ferrets legally must have their animals vaccinated for rabies by the age of four months, livestock do not typically get vaccinated unless rabies is an issue in the area.

Vaccines are not made specifically for goats, but goat owners typically use a sheep vaccine if necessary, he said.

Ray said goats and other livestock are less likely to transmit rabies to humans than dogs and cats are.

Marotto said in his eight years of working at Animal Services, this is his first case of a goat with rabies.

There were 12 reported rabies exposures in Orange county in 2012, and 11 cases in 2011.

Marotto said rabies reports usually drop in the colder months because fewer people are spending time outdoors.

He said that the best way for pet owners to protect themselves and their pets is vaccination, leashing, and oversight.

“The concern is not the ebb and flow or high and low times, but that rabies is here,” he said. “People need to take care for family, homes, and pets to prevent the flow.”

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