Rabid raccoon bites two in Montgomery, prompting heightened rabies warning and need to vaccinate pets
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dee W. Jones, D.V.M.
(334) 206-5100 or 1-800-338-8374
A raccoon that bit two individuals in the Chisholm neighborhood in north Montgomery over the past weekend has tested positive for the rabies virus, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) confirmed. The people have been notified, and have begun receiving the rabies vaccine from their medical provider. The vaccine is necessary in a timely manner in order to protect them from this deadly disease. The Montgomery County Health Department is currently investigating to determine if other people had contact with the raccoon.
Coincidentally, last week Montgomery County officials heard reports of animals exhibiting strange behavior, and ADPH worked with Montgomery animal control officers to capture and test those animals. Those particular animals were not found to be positive for rabies. According to State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Dee W. Jones, “Although there are other infectious diseases of wildlife that can make an animal behave strangely, most notably a distemper virus infection, it is safest to always use caution and not approach any wild animal and to call animal control.”
Dr. Jones said, “Additional testing will be performed on the raccoon to identify the strain of rabies. Since raccoons are the primary reservoir for rabies in Montgomery County, most likely it is the raccoon strain that infected the raccoon.” He also added that rabid raccoons are the primary cause of rabies being spread to other animals, both wild and domestic. Rabies prevention is multifaceted; it involves people taking precautions with wildlife, making sure their pets are current on rabies vaccinations, and always reporting an animal bite or other exposure to their medical provider or the health department.
The rabies virus is transmitted by saliva. In general, rabies exposure requires direct contact with infected saliva, usually through a bite or a scratch, but other less common contact exposures with mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth) are also considered as potential exposures.
Area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:
- Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
- Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
- Do not illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets.
- Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
- Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.
- Advise children to tell an adult if they are bitten or scratched by any animal.
- A person who is bitten or scratched by an animal should wash wounds immediately with mild soap and water, apply first aid, and seek medical attention or contact the county health department immediately.
Alabama state law requires that dogs, cats and ferrets 12 weeks of age and older be current with rabies vaccination. Rabies vaccines are also available for horses and other livestock if recommended by a veterinarian. Vaccinating animals reduces the risk of rabies infection should an exposure occur; thus vaccinations help protect animals, as well as their owners and caretakers.
For more information about rabies and prevention, please contact your county health department. You may also call ADPH at 1-800-338-8374 or (334) 206-5100 or visit alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.
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ALABAMA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH
RSA Tower 201 Monroe Street, Suite 910, Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone: (334) 206-5300 | Fax: (334) 206-5520