Wiregrass Residents Warned of Rabies

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Tuesday, News 4 told you one Wiregrass county has reported two cases of rabies within the past week.

Officials say this comes at an unseasonable time.

Vets say only about 25 to 35 percent of pet owners get their pets vaccinated for rabies.

Public health officials say that's a scary thought when you know that's the strongest barrier against you getting attacked by a rabid animal.

Last year, there were 84 cases of rabies in the state of Alabama.

Of that, over half have been in the southeast portion.

Veterinarians say most rabies cases are reported during the warmer months.

But now, two cases have already been reported in Dale County.

The first came February 8th from the 5000 block on County Road 11 near Ariton.

The most recent February 12th case comes from the County Road 63 and Highway 231 area near Midland City.

In both cases, rabid raccoons came into a yard and were killed by a dog.

"Rabies is just one of those diseases you don't want to play around with," says Dr. Tim Tucker, Dothan Veterinary Clinic.

According to state law, all pets must be vaccinated for rabies each year, even if the vaccine claims to last for three years.

"What we're trying to do is vaccinate all domestic cats and dogs as we can to provide a buffer between the wild animal population and the human population," say Public Health Environmentalist Charles Oliver.

As for these recent Dale County cases, all owners were fortunate.

The dogs that killed the rabid raccoons had their vaccines up-to-date and are now being monitored for 45 days.

As far as protecting yourself, Ozark Vet, Doctor Tim Tucker says 65 percent of raccoons you see during the day have rabies.

So, it's best if you stay away from the animal and call Animal Control.

Houston County led the state last year in the number of rabid animals found, with 22 cases.

Most of the cases come from rabid raccoons.