A man defending his pets killed a rabid bobcat northeast of Mount Lemmon in a rural area along the Pima and Pinal county border, according to health officials.

On July 20, officials with Pima Animal Care and the Pima County Health Department were notified that the bobcat tested positive for the rabies virus, said officials Friday, July 21, in a news release.

The bobcat was killed a week earlier by the pet owner. The man was notified and appropriate precautions are being taken to ensure his safety and that of his pets, said officials.  

Authorities urge residents to be mindful of the dangers encountering wildlife outdoors. A wild animal that is sick or feels threatened can cause physical harm and expose people and their pets to rabies.

"This incident was isolated to a rural part of Pima County where it is highly unlikely that the bobcat had contact with anyone other than this person and their pets," said Kristen Auerbach, director of Pima Animal Care Center.

"We want to take this opportunity to remind everyone who spends time outdoors to do their best to avoid wildlife they may encounter," said Auerbach in the release.

Wildlife in Southern Arizona that are most commonly found to test positive for rabies includes bats, skunks and foxes, authorities said. It is unusual for these animals to interact with people or their pets. However, an animal with rabies may be more likely to approach or even attack people or pets.

Humans and pets can get rabies from direct physical contact, such as a bite or scratch from an infected animal, said authorities. Rabies exposures are taken seriously because once a person starts developing symptoms that person will not survive, officials said.

Officials ask that people do not approach wild animals and that parents talk to their children about avoiding unknown or wild animals. Pet owners need to keep their pets current on rabies vaccinations.

Authorities also advise that if an animal is acting oddly or is on the ground do not touch it and call the animal care center at 724-5900. A person who comes in contact with a wild or unknown animal is asked to call the health department at 724-7797.

More information can be found at www.pima.gov/health and updates will be posted on the Pima County Health Department and Pima Animal Care Center Facebook pages.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at cduarte@tucson.com or 573-4104. On Twitter: @cduartestar