EL PASO COUNTY — If you've been to the Rainbow Falls Historic Site near Manitou Springs recently, you may want to get in touch with El Paso County Public Health officials if you came in contact with a bat.
A bat found at the site recently has tested positive for rabies. This is 12th animal to test positive in El Paso county this year.
The concern about possible contact with the bat extends to humans and animals.
The rabies virus is almost always deadly in both animals and people. It affects the brain and central nervous system, causing brain swelling and damage.
Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid animals, but can also be transmitted anytime an infected animal’s saliva enters an open wound, eyes, nose or mouth. It is commonly found in bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
According to Public Health, take these precautions to prevent rabies:
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies by using a licensed veterinarian. Rabies shots must be boosted, so check your pet’s records or talk to your veterinarian.
- When walking or hiking with your dog, protect them and wildlife by keeping your dog on a leash.
- Keep cats and other pets inside at night to reduce the risk of exposure to other domestic animals and wildlife. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard, or on leash) during the day while outside.
- Contact your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
- Do not touch or feed wild animals. Wild animals such as skunks and foxes adapt to residential environments if food is available – please do not leave pet food outdoors.
- If people or pets are bitten or scratched by an aggressive wild or unknown animal, call your doctor and report to El Paso County Public Health at https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/report-an-animal-bite [elpasocountyhealth.org] .
- Bat bites can be difficult to detect. If you find a bat in your house and are unsure how long it has been there, do not release the bat. Contact Public Health at 719-578-3220.
- If you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat, contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for options at (719) 473-1741.