SAGUACHE COUNTY – A bat in Saguache County tested positive for rabies this week. Fortunately, the individual who found the bat was able to contact local public health and have the animal tested before any persons or pets were exposed to the deadly virus. “We want to remind the public to protect themselves and their animals. It is important to report animals that may have been exposed to a rabid animal or that may be showing signs of rabies, such as unusual behavior,” said Ginger Stringer, SLV Regional Epidemiologist.
Bats and skunks are the most common species carrying the rabies virus in Colorado. Rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be passed to humans and other mammals. It infects the nervous system and can cause difficulty breathing, paralysis, loss of consciousness and death.
Fortunately, rabies is preventable. Have your pets vaccinated for rabies, and if your pet comes in contact with a bat or a skunk, notify a veterinarian and/or public health department right away. Also remember not to feed, touch or adopt wild animals and be cautious around stray cats and dogs. Rabid animals do not always appear vicious. If you notice a wild animal exhibiting strange behavior, call your local animal control or law enforcement agency and do not touch the animal.
Colorado has seen a significant increase in rabies in recent years along the Front Range and to a lesser extent in eastern Colorado. According to statewide data from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, as of September 8, 124 animals have tested positive for rabies in Colorado so far in 2017. This represents a significant increase from the 88 total animals testing positive in 2016. For more information about rabies please call your county health department or visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies.