Number of rabies cases has already peaked with 9 months to go

By Lakecia Shockley - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Some health officials in one East Texas county say they are already seeing a peak in rabies cases. The latest rabies case is located in Gregg County just south of the Sabine River. Health officials tell us one cat, found in that area, has tested positive for the disease.

Pat Sheets loves nature, but now, before she goes outside, she's packing heat.

"This is the 38 that I shot the cat with," said Sheets. "I had to shoot it four times to kill it. This one is a 22 magnum. I'm pretty good at getting them out and I'm a pretty good shot."

A few days ago Sheets went to the back of her house to walk her three dogs.

"I went out to the pins and I got my dogs out," she explained.

That's when a wild cat got a hold of her beloved dogs.

"It just attacked them," said Sheets. "It just balled up on one of them head and the other one got it by the back and the other one was trying to get it off that one and it was just one big mess but the cat got all three of those dogs. I said, 'I've got to come in the house and get my pistol. We got to shoot this cat. It's - it's gone crazy!'"

She managed to shoot the cat, but her three dogs had to be put down.

"It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life because three of them had saved me before from a wild hog," she said. "They were my buddies. I walked them everyday."

Her dogs aren't the only targets. She says a wild cat recently attacked a horse. Now, she and her neighbors are fearful for their livestock.

"There's so many wild animals out here and they could go anywhere in this neighborhood," she said. "I don't know what else the cat has bitten. I'm worried about all the people that live around [here]."

Gregg County health officials say they've already surpassed last years confirmed rabies cases.

"In 2008 we had three total and already we're in the third month and I've had three cases so it's kind of pushing up," said Fred Killngsworth with the Gregg County's health office. "Anything we get now is going to be a peak. So, we've already reached what we did last year and we have nine more months to go."

Gregg County health officials say the most important thing you can do to protect your pets and livestock is to make sure they have had all their vaccinations to keep from getting rabies.