Apr 18, 2011 7:18 PM by David Ortiviz

Rabies virus spreading in Colorado

Rabies is on the rise in parts of Colorado and health officials think the worst is yet to come. So far, eight animals have tested positive--mostly skunks--and concern is mounting as they move into residential neighborhoods.

In the past six months, seven skunks have tested positive for rabies in Pueblo County numbers like this are unprecedented in the county's history. "We're very concerned," said Carlton.

The Pueblo City-County Health Department collects animals suspected of having rabies and sends them to a state lab for testing. In recent months, two rabid skunks were found within city limits.

"The big deal is, is that rabies virus is 99.99% fatal. If a person were to contract rabies, more than likely they're going to die from it," said Carlton. Experts say people who are bitten by a rabid animal--could survive with immediate treatment.

Signs have been posted in Pueblo to warn people the virus is in our community. Experts say be aware of animals with odd behavior: skunks that are docile and friendly or by contrast those that are aggressive and chase after people and pets.

"The number one most important thing is to get their pets vaccinated," said Carlton. Most pet vaccinations can last up to three years. They urge taking precautions now, because the number of positive cases continues to climb. "The expectation right now from everything we've seen is that we've not hit the peak yet," said Carlton.

In Colorado last year, more than a 136 animals tested positive for rabies. El Paso County had 17 cases and Pueblo County had nine.



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