Pet baby raccoon surrendered to Animal Control tests negative for rabies

A pet baby raccoon that a couple surrendered to Animal Care and Control this week has tested negative for rabies, Mecklenburg County officials said Thursday.

People who came into contact with the raccoon are not at risk for rabies exposure, officials said.

Mecklenburg County health officials searched for the couple after they took their pet into a South Boulevard pet store over the weekend. Officials were concerned the couple might have unknowingly exposed themselves and other customers at the store to rabies.

The couple was found Tuesday and voluntarily surrendered the raccoon to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Animal Care & Control division.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Department released a statement earlier Tuesday saying they were searching for the couple, along with anyone who came into the store and had direct contact with the baby raccoon.

In North Carolina, raccoons are major reservoirs for rabies, a deadly viral infection that can be spread by the saliva or scratch of an animal that may or may not appear to be ill, health department spokeswoman Rebecca Carter said in a statement. “People who had direct contact with the baby raccoon may need shots for exposure to rabies,” she said.

It is illegal to keep native mammals or birds in North Carolina without a permit, health department officials said.

On Thursday, officials urged residents to never touch wildlife, which can transmit rabies and other diseases to humans, and to have their pets vaccinated against rabies.

Mecklenburg County residents can take their pets to a free rabies vaccination clinic 8-11 a.m. May 13 at CMPD’s Animal Care & Control division, 8315 Byrum Drive in Charlotte.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak