EL PASO COUNTY — El Paso County Public Health announced Thursday a bat recently became the 10th animal in the county to test positive for rabies in 2019.
Rabies is a virus that affects the brain and central nervous system, causing brain swelling and damage, and is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear. It spreads mainly through infected saliva in the bite of rabid animals, but can also be spread when infected saliva gets into open wounds or cuts, or into membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.
The virus infects wild animals, especially bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Squirrels and rabbits are among the animals not considered a risk for rabies.
“Awareness and prevention are the most important tools Public Health and the community have to protect our pets, families and selves from rabies and other infectious diseases,” said Dr. Robin Johnson, medical director at El Paso County Public Health. “We want to continue to share these best practices with everyone in the community so they can make informed decisions and remain safe.”
Because rabies is more common during the summer El Paso County Public Health is urging people to protect their pets and families by taking the following precautions:
- Vaccinate your pets at a the office of a licensed veterinarian. Rabies shots require boosters so check your pets records or talk to your veterinarian.
- Keep your dog on a leash when walking or hiking.
- Keep cats and other pets inside at night to reduce their risk of exposure to other animals. Keep pets within your sight during the day while outside.
- Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
- Do not touch or feed wild animals.
- If people or pets are bitten or scrached by an agressive wild or unknown animal, call your doctor and report it to El Paso County Public Health.
- Bat bite may be hard to detect. If you find a bat in your house and are not sure how long it has been there do not release it. Contact Public Health at 719-578-3220.
- If you come across a lost or stray dog or cat contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region at 719-473-1741.
This year one bat, seven skunks, one fox, and one dog have tested positive for rabies.
These are the total confirmed rabies reports in El Paso County since 2010:
- 2019: 10 (1 bat, 7 skunks, 1 fox & 1 dog)
- 2018: 67 (6 bats, 60 skunks, 1 raccoon)
- 2017: 28 (7 bats, 21 skunks)
- 2016: 3 (bats)
- 2015: 6 (5 bats, 1 cat)
- 2014: 10 (bats)
- 2013: 8 (4 bats, 2 foxes, 2 skunks)
- 2012: 3 (bats)
- 2011: 15 (5 bats, 1 fox, 9 skunks)
- 2010: 17 (8 bats, 4 foxes, 5 skunks)