Rabies found in three raccoons

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 3, 2004

Raccoons are pesky critters.

They are a nuisance to homeowners and motorist and can carry potentially deadly diseases.

Three cases of raccoons infected by rabies within the county were recently brought to the attention of the Crenshaw County Health Department and county rabies officer Dr. Alethea Gammage.

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Gammage said the first incident occurred near the Fuller's Crossroads area, another in the Chapel Hill Community and the most recent near Brantley. In all three cases, the raccoons entered homeowners' yards during the day.

"With the first incident, the family brought the dog in and was presented to me as a raccoon bite to the neck," Gammage explained. "I immediately sent them to their physician to consult with him. Of course, they all eventually had to have a post exposure vaccine.

"With the most recent incident, the residents called in one morning and they had killed the raccoon because it had attacked their dog in their yard. Then the man went outside and the raccoon attacked the man. The man tossed the raccoon to get him away and his wife came out and it attacked her."

Gammage said the State of Alabama Department of Public Health has declared Crenshaw County a "hot spot" of sorts for rabies occurrences because of the amount of reports filed in such a short period of time.

"They are especially interested, not necessarily every dead raccoon that's on the road that's been hit by a car, but suspicious animals that are acting more friendly or aggressive during the daytime hours," she said. "They really want us to keep a close check on that."

Gammage encourages all county residents to keep a close eye on their pets and report any strange animal behavior. She also said to make sure all pets have their annual rabies vaccination.

In addition to having your dog or cat immunized annually by a veterinarian, the following preventive measures will help minimize your exposure to rabies:

n Avoid sick or strange-acting animals. A wild animal that appears friendly, docile or approaches human, should be avoided. Nocturnal animals, such as raccoons and bats that become active in the daytime may be suspect.

n Do not touch, pick up or feed wild animals or unfamiliar domestic animals.

n Do not leave pet foot outside. It encourages wild animals and strays to enter the community environment and is not healthy for your own pet.

n Do not attempt to rescue seemingly abandoned or wild animals nor injured domestic animals. If you find an injured or sick animal, contact your local animal control officer or a veterinarian for advice.

n Do not keep wild or exotic animals as pets.

Gammage also encourages parents to speak with their children and explain the dangers of playing with wild animals, dead or alive.

For more information regarding rabies please contact the local environmentalist at the Crenshaw County Health Department at 335-2471 or Gammage at 335-5421.