PELL CITY – A fox shot and killed in Pell City earlier this week has tested positive for rabies, St. Clair County Rabies Control Officer Dr. larry Chasteen said.
It's the fourth case of rabies confirmed in the area in recent months. First, a bat found in Springville tested positive for rabies in April. Weeks later, a raccoon that attacked dogs inside an enclosed fence in Lincoln tested positive for the disease, and then a fox captured in Riverside by the Pell City Animal Control officer tested positive as well.
In Sylacauga, a raccoon was confirmed to have rabies in May.
Chasteen said this is a dangerous situation and it scares him.
“This fox was brought to our office Aug. 12,” Chasteen said. “This fox was found by a landowner on 18th Street in Pell City, where they are clearing land.”
Rose Ogden, the Pell City animal control officer, said by phone Friday that she had heard the landowner saw the fox in the backyard acting peculiar and staggering.
“He shot and killed it, and took it to Dr. Chasteen’s office,” Ogden said.
Chasteen said the St. Clair County Health Department shipped the fox to Montgomery, and found out Wednesday that it did have rabies.
Ogden said it is very important for cat and dog owners to keep their pets' vaccinations up to date.
“Don’t leave food out for pets that would attract wild animals to the house,” Ogden said.
Chasteen said he has been in the Pell City area for 30 years, and he has never seen a rabies outbreak like this.
“In the first 20 years here, we would have a case here and there with bats that had rabies,” Chasteen said. “Now, we have had three land animals just this year in St. Clair County and one in Lincoln with rabies. Dogs and cats are going to come in contact with these animals more than we as human beings are.
“You may have a dog that has been in a fight, and you do not know what the dog was in a fight with. I urge everyone to get their pets vaccinated. That not only protects pets, it protects people. Pets will be the first to come in contact with these wild animals.”
Contact Gary Hanner at firstname.lastname@example.org.