Bat in Larimer County tests positive for rabies, interacted with dogs

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A bat in Larimer County has tested positive for rabies, the first instance so far this year.

There is no evidence the bat ever came into contact with humans, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment, but it did interact with two dogs.

The dogs exposed to the bat were current on their vaccines and received rabies vaccine boosters after their exposure to the bat.

The exposure occurred in the 3100 block of North Shields Street, north of U.S. Highway 287, on Friday, May 27.

The health department reminds pet and livestock owners to make sure their animals have received rabies vaccines and to seek guidance from their veterinarians.

Read on to learn more about rabies prevention and treatment.

Rabies transmission and treatment

If treated promptly, the disease is nearly 100% curable. Once clinical symptoms appear, the disease is almost always fatal. Treatment consists of a dose of human rabies immune globulin and rabies vaccine given on the day of the rabies exposure and then again on days three, seven and 14.

The rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact with broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal. The virus infects the central nervous system in humans. 

People usually contract rabies from the bite of a rabid wild animal. In Colorado, bats and skunks make up the vast majority of rabies cases, though any mammal can become infected.

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It is possible but rare for people to get rabies from non-bite exposures, such as scratches, abrasions or open wounds that are exposed to saliva or other potentially infectious material from a rabid animal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other types of contact, such as petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine or feces are not associated with risk for infection and are not considered to be exposures of concern for rabies, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends pets receive the rabies vaccination because pets can get rabies from wildlife and then spread it to humans.

What if I’m bitten?

If bitten by an animal in an enclosed area, try and contain the animal. If it is caught, it can be tested for rabies. A negative test can mean reduced health care costs for you after an exposure. Seek medical care for all animal bites and wounds.

Larimer County residents should call Larimer Humane Society’s Animal Control at 970-266-3647, Ext. 7, to report any encounter with a bat, skunk, or other animal that looks sick.

For the latest information on rabies in Larimer County, including a map of the locations where rabid animals have been found, visit http://www.larimer.org/rabies.

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How do I keep my pet and family safe?

  • Visit your veterinarian with your pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
  • Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
  • Call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may not be vaccinated or ill.
  • Do not feed or touch wildlife.
  • Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is a wild animal in the area or if they are bitten or scratched.
  • Eliminate food sources for wild animals by not feeding pets outdoors, closing pet doors especially at night, and tightly closing garbage cans and feed bins. 

Rebecca Powell is a content strategist at the Coloradoan, working to connect our community with the answers they seek. Contact her at RebeccaPowell@coloradoan.com. The Coloradoan can’t do the important work of keeping our community informed without you. Support us by purchasing a digital subscription today.