Rabies fact sheet
Pet owner's should be advised that rabies vaccination is required by law - "The owner of an animal (dog, cat, ferret) listed in subsection130A-185, over four months of age, shall have the animal vaccinated against rabies." - North Carolina Senate Bill 674
Rabies is a preventable but fatal viral disease of mammals transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.
The rabies virus infects the central nervous system, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. The early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of many other illnesses, including fever, headache, and general weakness or discomfort. As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include insomnia, anxiety, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, hypersalivation (increase in saliva), difficulty swallowing, and hydrophobia (fear of water). Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.
From the Centers for Disease Control web page. Please see the CDC web page for more information.