Update on Rabies and Raccoons in Alabama
Since intensive oral rabies vaccination (ORV) efforts were conducted in central Alabama in 2005, new rabies cases in rac-coons and foxes have popped up in Elmore and Autauga counties, areas that were con-sidered to be raccoon-rabies-free. The USDA is considering these positive cases as “breaches” of the Alabama-Coosa river system, a natural, geographic “barrier” for the endemic occurrence of raccoon-variant rabies within Alabama.
Currently, USDA Wildlife Services and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) are working to identify the extent of the recent outbreak using trapping, night surveys, and enhanced surveillance of reportedly sick or dead animals.
Meanwhile, plans are underway at the national level to administer more ORV baits to these areas to stop the further migration of the disease and eliminate it from the area. Baits will likely be distributed with helicopters and targeted toward dense rac-coon population areas. To guide this proc-ess, intensive studies to determine raccoon population densities in habitat representa-tive of these areas are being planned.