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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Rabid bobcat: A rare find in Caroline

A rabid bobcat was discovered this week in Caroline County.

This week’s discovery of a rabid bobcat in Caroline County is unusual for the region and the state. The Virginia Department of Health has identified 152 rabid animals so far this year, and until this week, only one of them was a bobcat. Now there are two.

A homeowner on Bear Lane, south of Carmel Church, shot and killed the bobcat at about 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 24, said Dr. Brooke Rossheim, director of the Rappahannock Area Health District. The woman noticed the bobcat when her dogs started barking. The animal weighed about 30 pounds, Rossheim said, and was staggering and trying to climb the homeowner’s fence.

“It appeared sick,” he said.

The woman shot the bobcat and took it to a local veterinary clinic. The clinic staff decapitated the animal, and a Health Department worker collected the head and delivered it to a state lab in Richmond. The lab confirmed that it was rabid.

Rossheim asked that residents of the area call the Health Department if they believe that they or their pets had contact with this bobcat. He recommended that residents not approach or touch a wild animal.

“Enjoy them from afar,” he said.

He also asked that residents make sure that their pets have their vaccinations.

The bobcat is the third rabid animal to be discovered in the Fredericksburg area so far this year, according to the Health Department. The others were raccoons.

The only other rabid bobcat in Virginia so far this year was discovered in Floyd County. Two rabid bobcats were identified in the state last year.

Virginia identified 573 rabid animals in 2010 and 564 in 2009, according to the Health Department. More than half were raccoons.

(The office of epidemiology at the Health Department publishes an annual list of rabid animals by locality. It is available here. The Health Department’s advice on dealing with rabies can be found here.)