So far, in 2010, the State Health Department and Colorado State University diagnostic laboratories have confirmed rabies in 138 animals – in addition to the coyote, 64 bats, 62 skunks, seven foxes, one domestic cat, one horse, one mule deer and one muskrat have tested positive for rabies this year. Colorado is on track to break a record for rabies in wildlife due to the spread of rabies in skunks from Eastern Colorado toward the Front Range.
Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals; its signs include abnormal behavior (such as nocturnal animals being active during the day, bats being found on the ground, wild animals approaching humans or other animals, wild animals having difficulty walking or moving and unusual animal sounds such as excessive bellowing in cows or hissing/chirping in bats). Some animals with rabies will be very aggressive, while others may appear almost catatonic.
All mammals including humans are at risk of contracting rabies if they come into contact with an infected animal’s saliva; disease transfer usually occurs from a bite. Rabies is a very serious infection and can be fatal.
If you are bitten by an animal, please contact your medical provider or the Montrose County Health Department to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide whether or not to test the animal for rabies. Fortunately, protection is available and easy through your local veterinarian. People can protect themselves and their pets by keeping pets up-to-date on their rabies shots. Vaccinations through your veterinarian are an easy and simple effective way to protect your pets and your family from this disease.
Call the Montrose County Health Department at 970/252-5000 if you suspect an animal in your area may have the disease. Outside of Montrose County, call COHELP at: 877/462-2911 or visit www.cdphe.state.co.us and click on the “Rabies in Colorado” link for more information.