Rise in Rabies: Virus creating concern and leaving many on edge

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A spike in rabid animal cases in Baldwin County is creating concern and leaving many on edge.

A wildlife biologist in Baldwin County said it is unusual to have so many. The latest two happening in less than a week in Fairhope.

"I never thought in my career as a wildlife biologist, I would be standing in Fairhope, Ala telling people to be careful going out into their yards at night, if they have raccoons because of rabies,” said JJ McCool, a wildlife biologist. “It's that unusual."

That is what concerns McCool, two cases just days apart. He said the two animals probably have come in contact with each other, fighting over a food source.

"What I'm afraid of is it could have been maybe someone leaving pet food out or theirs some feeding stations for some of the cats around and a lot of these animals are habituated to that and they go there and feed,” McCool said. “That's probably where they came in contact.”

He is suggesting that people stop feeding wildlife for the time being, in an effort to create a barrier.

"If an animal is sick you can run into it anytime, so be super careful.” McCool said. “If you're getting up to go out to your car at night to get something, you have raccoons, turn on your yard lights, make some noise, look around be extra vigilant."

Besides watching out for yourself and your kids, McCool said there is also a huge concern for your pet and need to make sure it is vaccinated.

"In my 25 years in the wildlife business this is the only time in the Southeastern United States that I've run into rabies and it's right here in my hometown and it's been quite prevalent, we've had multiple cases," McCool said.

Both of the people attacked this week will have to undergo a long round of shots and antibiotics to fend off the virus.

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