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Saguaro National Park warns visitors to take extra precautions amid potential rabies cases

Officials at Saguaro National Park near Tucson are urging visitors to take extra precautions amid concerns about possible rabies cases. 

Officials say they’ve received reports of dead foxes and strange behavior by other wildlife inside the park recently. Accounts include abnormal behavior in foxes and raccoons, and another incident in which a bobcat bit a visitor. Officials say no carcasses have been recovered for testing yet.

Beth Hudick, interpretation, education and outreach manager at Saguaro National Park, says officials are worried about rabies because oddities have been recorded in different species of animals over the past month. She says animals who are sick will be behaving strangely.  

"Most of the time, [it's] when you see animals that are not acting they way you'd expect — they're not shying away from people, they're acting almost tame, and, in later cases, they may act aggressively," she said. 

Rabies can spread through bites, scratches and other close contact with infected animals. People who believe they may have been exposed should seek immediate medical help before the disease develops. 

The park says as always, visitors should remain at a safe distance from wildlife and ensure pets have all necessary vaccinations.

Alisa Reznick is a senior field correspondent covering stories across southern Arizona and the borderlands for the Tucson bureau of KJZZ's Fronteras Desk.