SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. — Recent surveillance for rabies in the raccoon population near Columbiana in Shelby County has revealed three positive cases. The current area of focus includes a two-mile radius around the Beeswax Creek boat launch area, where the most recent of the positive raccoons was discovered.
The ongoing surveillance is being conducted by the USDA Wildlife Services (WS) along with the Alabama Department of Public Health. The surveillance began in response to a rabid puppy found in February that was confirmed to be infected with a raccoon variant of the rabies virus.
The primary concern is that these positive cases have been found in an area where raccoon rabies is not typically found. According to Dana Johnson, a USDA WS biologist, the primary focus will be expanding the surveillance areas to try to determine the extent that the rabies virus has spread. Situations similar to this where rabies has been found in unexpected areas have happened occasionally in recent years in Jefferson and Montgomery counties.
Dr. Dee W. Jones, State Public Health Veterinarian, notes, “When positives are found, there is an action plan in place to widen the surveillance area until no positives are being found, which gives a better assurance that the virus has been contained.”