Two skunks have tested positive for rabies in La Plata County. One was in the Forest Lakes subdivision and the other closer to downtown Bayfield.
San Juan Basin Public Health urges residents to stay away from stray and wild animals, check pets’ vaccination status and take other precautions to avoid rabies.
Rabies is regularly found in Colorado wildlife, especially skunks and bats. Interaction between humans and wild animals, particularly bats, skunks, foxes and raccoons, increases the risk of rabies exposure to pets and people. To report wildlife that is acting abnormally, call La Plata County Animal Protection at 385-2900 or the health department at 247-5702.
The rabies vaccine can prevent dogs and cats from getting the disease from wildlife and possibly exposing owners.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 180 animals have been found carrying rabies in the state so far this year, of which 167 were skunks and 10 were bats. The numbers represent only animals that were tested after they were witnessed exhibiting abnormal behaviors or had encounters with people, pets or livestock. There are many more rabid animals in Colorado that never get tested.
Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of animals with the disease. It is almost always fatal in humans once symptoms appear. People who have been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal should contact their health care provider immediately.
To avoid rabiesNever touch or feed wild or stray animals. Don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you see a sick or orphaned animal, do not touch it; instead, contact La Plata County Animal Protection. Vaccinate your pets. Use a licensed veterinarian and keep up with pets’ booster shots.Leash your dogs. Protect dogs and wildlife by keeping pets on a leash while walking or hiking.Keep cats and other pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard or on a leash) during the day while outside.Call your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine.Bat-proof your home. For more information about bat-proofing, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management. If a bat has been present in a room in which people have been sleeping, the bat should be safely trapped and tested. If a bat cannot be tested or there are multiple bats in the home, post-exposure treatment of anyone living in the home is recommended. Call the health department for guidance about safe capture, testing of bats and follow-up.To recognize sick wildlifeMany healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans; sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.Wildlife with rabies may act aggressively or will violently approach people or pets.Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. Don’t bother them.Rabid wildlife might have trouble walking, flying, eating or firstname.lastname@example.org