Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Harry Hildebrandt

Rabies in Colorado


August 4, 2018

Courtesy Illustration

Rabid bats have been found in two places in Boulder County so far in 2018. If your pet catches a bat or you find one in your house, contact Boulder County Public Health at 303-441-1564 to determine if testing is necessary.

The risk for rabies in Colorado has been increasing, and with so many wild and domesticated animals around, it’s important to know how to best prevent rabies and how to manage it when it occurs.

The CDC website instructs bite victims to immediately wash any wounds. “One of the most effective ways to decrease the chance of infection is to wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water.” It’s also mentioned that rabies can only be contracted when saliva or nervous system tissue makes direct contact with the eyes, mouth or an open wound. There is no risk of rabies from handling a rabid animal so long as none of the previous conditions are met.

Pet owners are advised to have their animals vaccinated against rabies. Vaccinations must be given every three years after the first vaccination at the age of four to six months. Although some states require annual rabies vaccinations, Colorado does not.

The CDC website states, “Unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately.” Additionally, any animal that was bitten by a wild carnivorous mammal is assumed to have been exposed to rabies if the wild animal cannot be found for testing.

Given that most pet owners aren’t willing to put their animals down so easily, the Boulder Public Health Department suggests a 10 day quarantine for any domesticated animal that is suspected of having rabies. If symptoms develop during that time, take the animal to the vet.

Courtesy Illustration

Two rabid bats have been found so far this year in Boulder County.

Bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes have been found to be infected with rabies since 2014 in Boulder County. When a human is exposed to rabies, he or she must be treated quickly. Call your doctor for information about rabies treatment. If necessary, postexposure prophylaxis or PEP will be administered. PEP is 100 percent effective when used immediately after a wound is inflicted. Rabies is frequently fatal in humans once the symptoms have manifested, so action should be taken quickly.

Animals that have been infected with rabies act differently than healthy ones. The Boulder County Public Health Department recommends that if you notice any animals acting drunk, or abnormally aggressive, call local animal control so that the animal can be removed. Additionally, the department notes, “The most important thing for parents is to teach their children not to play around any wild animals.”


Reader Comments

Andrea writes:

It is important to be cautious with our surrounding and teach our kids not to play wild animals.


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