Two raccoons test negative for rabies

Published 5:05 pm Thursday, July 11, 2013

After two confirmed rabies cases, a third raccoon found about five miles west of Clanton last week tested negative for the rabies virus, Chilton County Public Health Environmental Supervisor Keith Jackson said.

A fourth raccoon was found on County Road 76 in Thorsby on Jones Street over the Fourth of July weekend and was tested early Thursday morning.

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 he tested the fourth raccoon found in Thorsby on Thursday and it was negative for the rabies virus.

“Although it came back negative we have not started our enhanced surveillance in that area yet so we aren’t ruling out positive rabies cases in that area,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he had received a call Thursday of a raccoon in Montevallo that was walking in circles on someone’s front porch.

“The people called and reported the raccoon was not leaving the porch and acting very strange,” Johnson said.

With those living in Chilton County on high alert for raccoons that might be carrying the rabies virus, Jackson and others are planning an educational meeting on July 31 at the Pelham Health Department on Shelby County Road 52.

Although the meeting is not open to the public, Jackson, state rabies health officer Dr. Dee Jones, Johnson, as well as local municipalities in both Shelby and Chilton counties, animal control officers, mayors and commissioners are being encouraged to attend.

The rabies virus carries two types of variance in the state of Alabama, one with raccoons and one with bats.

The raccoon variance attacks the neurological functions of a raccoon and if infected, the virus will go to its brain.

Johnson said any dog or cat food as well as outside trash will attract raccoons.

“Raccoons will come for one of three reasons: food, shelter or water,” Johnson said. “Those are three needs every animal has so if you have an area where there is food outside, the raccoons are going to find it. If you remove the food, chances are they are going to move on to something else.”

For anyone who has been exposed, or may have been exposed, including their pets, should call the local health department.

For those living in Chilton County, call Johnson at (334) 844-5670 and report any rabies cases or raccoon sightings. Anyone with a human or domestic animal case should also call the Chilton County Health Department at 755-1287.