Maricopa County has rabies increase; agencies don't know why

PHOENIX - There's an increase in the number of rabies cases in Maricopa County and health officials say they can't explain why that is.

The Department of Public Health says seven cases of animal rabies have been reported so far this year, compared with five confirmed cases last year. This year's cases include five bats, one bobcat and one fox.

The department says four people this year had to receive preventative rabies shots after being exposed to lab-confirmed rabid animals and that other people were treated as a precaution after being bitten or exposed to wild animals not available for testing.

Animal disease expert Craig Levy recommends that residents make sure their animals are vaccinated against rabies. Levy also advises against handling bats and other animals that could be carrying the virus.

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