Three more cases of rabies found in area

Published 5:40 pm Thursday, June 13, 2013


COLUMBIANA—Three more raccoons infected with rabies have been found in Shelby County and the surrounding area, bringing the total to 13 this year.

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 raccoon was found in Chilton County a couple miles from the start of state route 22.

Johnson said he found the raccoon after it had been run over about 2 weeks ago. He took it back to his lab and it tested positive for rabies.

A homeowner in the town of Shelby called in the second raccoon. The raccoon was chasing the owner’s puppy, and then went on the front porch and wouldn’t leave, Johnson said.

The homeowners killed the raccoon and called Johnson to pick it up for testing.

During a routine surveillance, a third raccoon was captured near the Shelby County landfill in Columbiana. Both raccoons tested positive to rabies.

The past few months there has been an increase in infected animals.

“That was lucky number 13,” Johnson said.

Johnson said rabies was also found in a cat on Beach Street in Leeds a few days ago.

In that case, a pet owner brought his cat to the veterinarian’s office after noticing it was acting strangely. It also tested positive for rabies.

“Raccoons can carry a virus for years and not shed it,” Johnson said. “They get into an area with a dense population of animals, and there is no telling what can happen.”

Johnson said routine surveillance was expanded to include Leeds. The new surveillance found that at least two people had been exposed in a half-mile area.

If you have been exposed, or may have been exposed, call the health department. If your pets start acting strangely take them to your veterinarian’s office.

Johnson said he and his team can only test raccoons and other wild animals. The health department will handle all domestic cases.

“There was just a report today of a waddling raccoon near Lowe’s,” Johnson said on June 13.

Johnson urged people in the Shelby County area to be aware and call in any suspected rabies cases to 334-844-5670.