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.
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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.