CodeALERT warns residents of possible rabies epidemic

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 05:09 AM

A CodeRED alert was issued Thursday afternoon by Rutherfordton Police Department regarding a possible rabies epidemic in and near Rutherfordton. 

The alert sent the emergency message through email, text message and through telephone systems warning of the possible epidemic.

Police Chief Kevin Lovelace said he received information from officer Brad Jones or the Rutherford County Animal Control regarding the problem.

With the assistance of Rutherfordton Fire Chief Tommy Blanton the emergency alert was issued.

The alert said: "During the past two months, animal control officials have encountered six wild foxes and raccoons in and near Rutherfordton that have exhibited signs of rabies. This is a reminder to avoid contact with any animals behaving strangely. Also, make sure your pet rabies vaccinations are up to date."

Suspected animals were encountered on Honeysuckle, Woodbriar, Grayson Drive and R-S Middle School.

The Rutherford County Health Department advised anyone who has been bitten by an animal to wash any wounds thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes and seek medical treatment immediately and call the animal control officers.

According to public health officials, raccoons and cats represent the highest number of lab-confirmed rabies cases in the state in wild and domestic animals respectively.

However, any mammal can be infected, including bats. While most bats do not have rabies, they represent a significant risk of infection as most human cases of rabies in the United States are due to bat exposure. If you find bats in your home, please call your local health department immediately.

North Carolina requires all dogs, cats and ferret owners to have their pets vaccinated against rabies, beginning at four months of age.

 CodeRED Emergency Notification System allows emergency personnel to telephone all or targeted areas of the town in case of an emergency situation that requires immediate action, such as an evacuation, contaminated water, hazardous chemical spill, etc. This system is capable of dialing the entire area within minutes.