BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – As the state’s furry ruffles emerge from their hibernation season, Colorado parks and wildlife officials want the public to prepare for the potential of coming into contact with rabies, especially after the discovery of an infected bat earlier this month. .
According to Boulder County officials, on May 9, a resident found a dead bat on his property near the intersection of Nelson Road and Airport Road. After contacting the town of Longmont, the animal’s remains were transferred to Boulder County Public Health, where he tested positive for rabies.
“Bats start migrating, and when they move, that means more contact with people and pets,” said Carol McInnes, environmental health specialist for Boulder County Public Health. “As temperatures warm up, everyone will be spending more time outdoors, so watch your pets and make sure their vaccinations are up to date.”
According to public health officials, all potentially affected pets have since been assessed. Fortunately, these animals were either inoculated for rabies before the rabies case was discovered or had a clear history of veterinary examinations.
Rabies in the State of Colorado
Rabies is usually transmitted by scratches or bites from an infected specimen to another animal. The sometimes undetectable viral disease targets the central nervous system and is usually fatal, but if treated quickly with the prescribed series of vaccinations, it poses less of a risk.
Of all the bats that have been tested in the state, 15% have tested positive for rabies.
According to Bat Conservation International, rabies transmitted by the species causes one human death in the United States per year. However, the stigma attached to the animal poses a threat to the flourishing of this essential member of the Colorado ecosystem.
In the last reporting year for the United States, bicycle crashes killed 800 people, bee stings claimed 95 lives, and dog attacks claimed 20 lives. This makes rabies the second rarest disease in the country behind poliomyelitis.
If you, your child, or your pets have encountered a bat, you should contact Boulder County Public Health by calling 303-441-1564.
How to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies
- Never handle wild or domestic animals that you do not know.
- Always wash thoroughly any wound created by an animal bite or scratch. Follow this by consulting a doctor.
- Keep your beloved pet’s vaccination status up to date.
- If you, someone you know, or your pets are bitten or exposed, contact your local public health department.
- Proceed with caution at this step, but if possible, restrain the bat and ask your local animal control officer to help you capture it.
If you come across a sick or injured bat, make sure you never handle it directly by hand. If you try to contain the animal, be sure to use the proper protective equipment, such as heavy gloves or tongs.
Always call your local health department and if your pet has been bitten or has a bat in its mouth, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
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