More cases of rabies found near Columbiana

By JAN GRIFFEY/Editor

COLUMBIANA — Three more positive cases of rabies have been found in raccoons in the Columbiana area.

Dana Johnson, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, based at the School of Forestry and Wildlife Services at Auburn University, said one of the cases was discovered in a raccoon trapped and collected during his agency’s surveillance near the public boat launch at Beeswax Creek.

A second positive case was found in a raccoon picked up by Shelby County Animal Control. It was located about one mile south of where the initial case was found in a dog in February on Shelby County 61. The raccoon collected by animal control was reported to it by a resident, who discovered it dead against a pine tree, Johnson said. The dog — the original case of rabies — was found three miles due west of the 4-H Center, Johnson said.

A third positive case of rabies was discovered last Thursday in the town of Shelby, about three miles due south of the location of the second rabid raccoon.

Johnson said surveillance by his agency continues, and residents in the area are urged to be vigilant.

“From the farthest case found in the north to the farthest in the south is 5.7 miles,” he said. “These animals all tested positive at Auburn and were all sent to the CDC in Atlanta, which confirmed them.”

Johnson said the surveillance area will be expanded and his team will be back in the area the last week of April to resume “heavy surveillance.”

He said if anyone sees and animal acting strangely in the area mentioned, to please not touch it.

“Call animal control, or if you see a dead raccoon that does not looked to have suffered trauma, please call our office. Please do not touch the animal.”

Johnson can be reached at 334-844-5670.

He said anyone who has a pet they think is acting strangely should take the pet to its veterinarian.

Dr. Dee W. Jones, State Public Health Veterinarian, said in a press release issued April 17, the best way to protect yourself and your pets is to keep pets currently vaccinated against rabies.

To protect yourself, your family and your pets from exposure to the rabies virus, you should follow these precautions, said a press release from the Alabama Department of Public Health:

• Avoid domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.

• Instruct children to avoid approaching any non-domesticated animal, regardless of its behavior.

• Advise children to tell an adult if they have been bitten or scratched by an animal.

For more information, contact the Alabama Department of Public Heath, Bureau of Communicable Disease, Division of Epidemiology at 1-800-677-0939.