A Larimer County Sheriff’s deputy said the quick-thinking of a ranger saved her. Fort Collins Coloradoan
The four southeast Fort Collins residents being treated for potential rabies exposure encountered the bat in their house, according to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.
Larimer County health department spokesperson Katie O’Donnell said Tuesday when a bat is in a home, especially overnight, it isn’t always known if people were bitten or scratched. She added when that bat tests positive after a potential exposure to humans, those people are encouraged to seek preventative treatment to ensure they don’t actually get rabies.
The exposure happened June 2 in the 8400 block of Golden Eagle Road, south of Fossil Creek Reservoir and Colorado Highway 392, according to the health department. Positive test results of the bat were confirmed Friday.
A neighbor of the home where the incident took place but who did not want to be identified said she noticed bat feces on her front porch and scared a bat away from the back patio.
Bats can squeeze through an opening the size of a quarter.
Contrary to popular belief, you may not know if you have been bitten by a bat, especially while sleeping, because bat teeth are sharp and tiny. The bite might not leave any mark, which if present will look like a pin prick.
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 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.
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.
Contact the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-498-6700 or www.larimer.org/rabies after a potential rabies exposure. The department can coordinate testing of animals for rabies and help determine if preventive treatment is needed for humans and pets. Public health can also discuss possible exposures and determine risk when an animal is not available for testing
How do I keep my pet 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.
Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
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