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home : news : news December 9, 2019

9/29/2019 8:18:00 AM
Rabies Update
Photo For Illustration Purposes Only
Photo For Illustration Purposes Only

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

Some Gaston County veterinarians opened a fall rabies clinic Saturday (Sep. 28th) as the county continued to have widespread incidents of wild animals with the deadly disease.

The clinics will operate through October 11th at participating veterinarian’s offices, offering rabies vaccinations for $8 per pet. Among those participating is Cherryville Animal Hospital. Gaston County Police Animal Control noted that the vaccinations do not include a required Gaston County rabies tag, which cost an additional $10 for a one-year license.

Gaston County has had more confirmed rabies cases (11) so far this year than in any year since 2001.

4 - Tonya Warlick - SonShine

Several of this year's cases involved dogs fighting with rabid skunks. In cases where the dogs had been given a legally required rabies vaccination, a booster shot was given; but in cases where the dogs had not been vaccinated before fighting with the skunk, the dogs had to be euthanized. Pets that come into contact with a rabid animal must either be euthanized or kept in quarantine at the animal shelter for 12 weeks--and that can be expensive, so most owners elect to have their animals destroyed. Rabies symptoms can appear within a week, but in a few cases, they may not be evident until months later.

North Carolina law requires pet owners to vaccinate cats, dogs and ferrets for rabies once they are four months old or older. Gaston County also requires pet owners buy rabies tags for their pets.

The initial rabies vaccination is good for one year; after that, with proof of vaccination within the last year, owners can get their animals vaccinated with a three-year booster shot.

Gaston Animal Control is continuing to look for an Australian Cattle Dog that killed a skunk last Monday (Sep. 23rd).

While technically listed as a stray, Capt. Reid Rollins says Animal Control believes the dog belongs to someone in the area of the incident--Narrow Gauge Road off Philadelphia Church Road. "The dog appeared well fed and had been neutered," Capt. Rollins told us. "Someone spent money to feed him and get him neutered--one would hope they also got him a rabies shot." Animal Control set out traps after learning that the skunk, killed in the fight, had been rabid. As of Saturday (Sep. 28th) they had not captured the dog.

People should avoid wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes, and skunks, and not allow their animals to roam freely where they might encounter a rabid animal. Rabies is a fatal neurological disease that can affect any warm-blooded animal, humans included. Rabies shots offer protection for vaccinated animals and are available at veterinarians' offices.

The 11 confirmed cases of rabies this year in Gaston County have been widespread. The 11th was on Sandy Ford Road near Mt. Holly, also last Monday. There, the dogs that fought with a rabid skunk had been vaccinated, so they only needed a booster shot. The 10th was the incident on Narrow Gauge Road. The 9th was on Dornoch Road near Robinson Lake in Gastonia; there, two dogs who fought with a rabid raccoon had also had their shots and just needed a booster.

The 8th Gaston County case this year was September 15th on Wade Street in Belmont where to dogs fought with a rabid raccoon. In that case, the dogs had not been vaccinated and had to be euthanized.

The seventh case this year was in early September when a family dog fought with a rabid skunk on Hardin Road. In that case, the dog hadn't been vaccinated and had to be euthanized.

The sixth case was just west of Alexis on Alexis-High Shoals Road, where a fox that had been wandering the neighborhood was killed and found to be rabid.

The fifth case was in Gastonia, where to dogs killed a rabid raccoon; they had been vaccinated and only needed a booster shot.

The fourth case of the year was less than a half mile away from the sixth--a half mile west of Alexis. There, a man reported a fox ran out of the woods and bit him on the leg. The man had to receive treatment, which can be quite painful.

The third case of 2019 involved a rabid raccoon trying to attack a dog through a fence in Gastonia. The dog had been vaccinated and only needed a booster.

The second case this year was in July and involved a raccoon that fought with a dog on Carr Road in Dallas. The raccoon escaped, but the body of a dead raccoon was found in a neighbor's yard and it tested positive for rabies. The dog was current on its vaccination, and only needed a booster shot.

The first case this year was in April on Unity Church Road in Gastonia where a dog fought and killed a rabid raccoon.

In Lincoln County, there have been four confirmed rabies cases this year--the latest in August on Keever Dairy Farm Road. There, a dog and a pig that had not been vaccinated, had to be quarantined following an encounter with a rabid skunk.

Catawba County has had six rabies cases this year, the most recent in late August when a dog was bitten by a rabid fox in Maiden. Previous cases occurred in Claremont, Hickory, Maiden and Newton.

Cleveland County has had one confirmed case in 2019.

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