It’s that time of year again, when people in Guilford County are getting back outdoors and hiking the trails and enjoying getting back to nature and watching the wildlife.  That’s all very copacetic; however, Guilford County health officials are concerned about a potentially deadly problem that plagues Guilford County each year: the county has many more than its fair share of rabid animals running around.

In fact, from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2022, Guilford County had 22 cases of rabid animals, which was the most rabid animals found in any county in the state of North Carolina that year – even beating out the state’s most populous counties of Mecklenburg and Wake.

This year, it’s not even income tax filing time yet, and already Guilford County has reported its fifth case of animal rabies. On Wednesday, April 3, county health officials reported a cat found in the vicinity of Spring Oak Court in High Point that tested positive for rabies.

The county’s first case discovered in 2024 was a rabid horse on Alcorn Road in Oak Ridge that tested positive on February 21.

North Carolina law requires that all domestic pets – cats, dogs and ferrets –  whether living inside or outside, aged four months or older, be vaccinated for rabies.

Usually, more than other counties in North Carolina, Guilford County also has a wider variety of animals carrying the disease each year.  In some counties in the state the rabies cases are almost entirely confined to raccoons; however, in Guilford County in recent years it’s been bats, cats, foxes, raccoons, skunks and other animals.

So far in 2024, it’s been a horse a cat, two raccoons and a fox.

The state does make some effort to trick raccoons into becoming vaccinated.  In certain highly wooded areas of North Carolina, state workers drop enticing looking food treats from airplanes – treats which are really rabies vaccine capsules wrapped in tasty food.  However, there’s not much that can be done to educate or warn animals about the threat of rabies since they do not understand human language and, even if they did, they probably wouldn’t follow the advice.  After all, they are called “wild” animals for a reason.

So, local health officials are putting the onus on the human beings to keep themselves from getting infected.

Here are some tips to help prevent you or your family from being exposed to rabies:

  • “Wild animals are not usually friendly so be very careful if they approach you.”
  • “Do not try to separate fighting animals.”
  • “Do not approach, try to play with, touch, rescue or treat any wildlife.”
  • “Avoid direct contact with wildlife, dead or alive.”

If you find an injured or rabid animal, call Guilford County Animal Control at 336-641-5990.