Local and state officials are growing more concerned with every new rabies case discovered in Shelby County. They've had 21 rabies cases since the beginning of the year.
The latest rabies case reported in Shelby County came just over a week ago near the Jefferson/Shelby county line in the Highway 119 area.
That was the 21st rabies case reported since january in a stretch of land that includes all of Shelby County and parts of Clanton and Leeds.
"The current approach is one of intensive surveillance right now to see exactly what we're dealing with," state director of the USDA Frank Boyd said.
Boyd says health and wildlife workers are trapping raccoons to test them for rabies to try and find out how far west this strain of rabies has spread, and they could use your help.
"We're looking for really those suspicious animals, strange-acting, middle of the day, things like that. Anything like that can be reported to the health department where folks will know how to get them tested," Boyd said.
Some of the rabies cases have been pets like cats and dogs. Even though state law requires all pets to be vaccinated, some aren't. Boyd says the state will continue monitoring these cases and may decide to give an oral vaccine to wildlife if this pace of cases keeps up.
"This is not something to be overly concerned about, but certainly it's something we want folks to be aware of and on the watch out for. Sometimes it just dies out, but we'll keep an eye on that," he said.
The USDA also has a trapping program that runs from Maine to Alabama and is most active in the fall months so officials should know more by mid-October about how widespread this rabies outbreak has become.
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