Public health officials say they’ve discovered at least two cases of rabies from animals near the Superstition Mountains.
Officials say the two reported cases involved foxes that were captured and tested for the disease.
Health officials in Pinal and Maricopa counties made the announced Friday, saying hikers should stay vigilant while exploring the area.
Pinal County Epidemiologist Graham Briggs said, “From the reports we have been getting from hikers in the area, it looks like we have an increase of rabies in wild animals. Two of the cases have been confirmed, but park officials have reported seeing dead animals along with aggressive animals on the trail.
To put this into context, ABC15 looked at data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Numbers show Pinal County now has three confirmed rabies cases in 2017. They had one case in 2016, and no cases in 2015.
"Those numbers do get our attention but at the same time, too, we're not looking at anything above 10 cases or 20 cases," said Joe Pyritz, who is the Public Information Officer for Pinal County.
The Superstition Mountains Wildness area — which includes Lost Dutchman State Park, the First Water Trail and the Tonto National Forest — is a popular hiking destination, especially during the cooler Arizona months.
Due to the recent discovery, signs have been posted warning hikers and campers of the rabies cases.
Pinal County Animal Care and Control says hikers should be cautious when bringing their pets to the trails.
“The first thing is to make sure your pets are properly vaccinated,” a PCACC spokesperson said. “The other is not to let them roam free while you are hiking, always have been on a leash.”