CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. -- Catawba County is dealing with its third rabies case this year.

  • This is the county's third rabies case so far
  • Health experts say the heat may be a factor
  • Make sure your pet's shots are current

In all incidents, house pets were involved with wild animals like Riley, a 5-year-old German Shepherd. She bit into something she shouldn't have last week.

“She had something long and black and furry in her mouth. Then, it raised its head and it was white, so it was a skunk,” dog owner Joan Wallace said. “So, I got the gun, and I killed the skunk.”

She says she was worried a skunk would be out in the daytime and so close to the house.

She then called Catawba County Animal Control who sent it for testing and that test came back positive for rabies. They told her that her dog would be fine because she was current with her shots.

That same day, animal control found another rabid skunk in Maiden. Almost a month earlier, a rabid raccoon was also in the area bringing the total number of cases to three so far this year.

There were a total of six cases last year, but public health says the warm temperatures may be causing the early cases.

“It goes along with people being outside more. Rabies is present anytime in wildlife. When people are outside more, they're going to have more exposure to animals,” Sarah Rhodes with Catawba Health said.

Experts say rabies is deadly with no cure once it's developed. They advise to keep your pets vaccinated.

“I would have had to quarantine her for six months at my expense,” Wallace said.

It would be a hefty price to pay versus a $12 rabies shot.

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