Area pet own­ers can take steps to keep an­i­mals safe from ra­bies

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - News - BY LAVENDRICK SMITH lv­[email protected]­lot­teob­ LaVendrick Smith: @LaVen­drickS

A se­ries of re­cent ra­bies cases across the Char­lotte re­gion may make pet own­ers want to en­sure their pet is pro­tected from the virus.

There were at least five con­firmed ra­bies cases in July in coun­ties ad­ja­cent to Meck­len­burg County.

In Catawba County, two skunks and a rac­coon tested pos­i­tive for ra­bies in July, ac­cord­ing to county of­fi­cials.

A 2-month-old kit­ten tested pos­i­tive for ra­bies in Gas­ton County later in the month, and of­fi­cials con­firmed an­other cat in Lin­coln County had the virus.

There isn’t a time of year when ra­bies is more preva­lent among an­i­mals. How­ever, the state does more test­ing for the virus in the sum­mer when hu­mans are more likely to come in con­tact with po­ten­tially ra­bid wildlife, said Erica Berl, a pub­lic health vet­eri­nar­ian with the state De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices.

There are mea­sures pet own­ers can take to keep their an­i­mals safe from ra­bies.

Peo­ple who own dogs, cats or fer­rets are re­quired by law to have their pets vac­ci­nated for the virus if the pet is older than 4 months. The an­i­mal will need a booster shot a year af­ter be­ing vac­ci­nated, but most vac­cines should work for three years, Berl said.

Berl also rec­om­mends peo­ple who own live­stock have their an­i­mals vac­ci­nated even though it’s not re­quired by law.

She ad­vises own­ers of pup­pies and kit­tens to not leave their pets out­side unat­tended, as they’re too young to be vac­ci­nated. It’s also wise to not let your pets wan­der alone, she said, even they have had the vac­cine.

There have been seven con­firmed ra­bies cases in


Meck­len­burg County so far this year. The most re­cent case was in June, when a fox in Mint Hill tested pos­i­tive for the virus.

The county al­lows res­i­dents to vac­ci­nate their pet for free ev­ery sec­ond Satur­day of the month.

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