Warmer weather is on the way and with that more wildlife encounters. Are you aware of which animals in Summit County are rabies carriers? Do you know what to do if your animal brings one in the house?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: April 28th, 2020
Contact: Jesslyn Swirka
SUMMIT COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL REMINDER ON RABIES
SUMMIT COUNTY, CO – Warmer weather is on the way and with that more wildlife encounters. Are you aware of which animals in Summit County are rabies carriers? Do you know what to do if your animal brings one in the house? Common animals that are rabies carriers in Summit County are: bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes.
WHAT IS RABIES?
According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, rabies is a viral disease that is transmitted through saliva of infected animals and is most often spread from one animal to another by a bite. The rabies virus multiplies at the bite site and travels through the nerves to the brain. It also goes to the salivary glands. It is not found in the blood of infected animals. The virus attacks the central nervous system causing severely distressing neurological symptoms and then death. Once symptoms develop, the disease is 99.9% fatal. However, post exposure prophylaxis can stop the virus if given soon after exposure (from a bite or scratch of an infected animal).
ARE RABIES VACCINATIONS REQUIRED FOR MY PET?
Rabies vaccinations are required for cats, dogs, and ferrets in the state of Colorado. Summit County’s pet licensing program helps to enforce the rabies vaccination requirement since proof of the pet’s current rabies vaccination must be provided to purchase a license. Although we are not a rabies endemic area, it is important to realize that the reason we are not is because of the requirement to vaccinate our pets against rabies. In the mid-nineties and in 2019 Summit County did have a bat test positive for rabies.
WHAT TO DO IF I AM BITTEN OR WAKE UP WITH A BAT IN MY HOUSE?
If you are bitten by a domestic animal, you should wash the wound with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. If possible get information on the animal’s owner and report the bite to animal control by calling 970-668-8600, so that they can verify rabies vaccination of the animal. If you are bitten by a wild animal, again wash the wound with soap and water. Contact Animal Control so they can catch the animal and have it tested. Consider contacting your health care provider to discuss the potential need for post exposure rabies prophylaxis. Keep in mind that exposure to bats can occur while someone is sleeping or with unattended children. Bites or scratches may not leave an obvious wound. In these cases, it is recommended to err on the side of caution and contact Animal Control for advice and possible testing. Only bats with suspected exposure to people and pets will be considered for testing. Keep bats out of your home by eliminating points of entry and discouraging roosting near the home.
WHAT IF MY CAT BRINGS A RABIES CARRIER INTO THE HOUSE OR IF MY DOG GETS BITTEN?
If you find that your pet has been exposed to a wild animal, take a picture or video of the animal, or if it can safely be done, carefully contain the wild animal and contact animal control so that they can have the animal tested for rabies. It is extremely important that you vaccinate your pets against rabies, as unlike people, post exposure rabies prophylaxis is not effective in animals.
RABIES IS PREVENTABLE
Rabies is a preventable disease. Vaccinated dogs and cats will not get rabies and, therefore, are unable to spread rabies to humans. So take an active part by ensuring that your dog, cat, or ferret’s rabies vaccination is current and help keep our county safe from a very preventable but very deadly disease.
FOR QUESTIONS ABOUT RABIES OR TO REPORT AN EXPOSURE
Summit County Animal Control (970) 668-8600
Summit County Public Health (970) 668-9161