El Paso County, Colo — Recently, a bat discovered at the Rainbow Falls Historic Site near Manitou Springs was reported to have rabies, making it the 12th animal this year in El Paso County to test positive for the disease.
Rabies is a virus that infects wild mammals, including bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes in particular.
During the summer months, the disease is more prevalent, and El Paso County Public Health urges individuals by taking precautions to safeguard their families and animals.
“We want to make sure that everyone remains safe around wildlife.”
“People should stay away from animals that are acting abnormally, like a bat that is outside during daytime hours or unable to fly. Strange behaviors are indicators that the animal might be sick. The best practice is to always keep yourself and your pets at a safe distance from wildlife.”Kimberly Pattison,
El Paso County Public Health Communicable Disease program manager
Rabies is a viral disease that impacts the brain and other sections of the central nervous system, causing swelling and harm to the brain, and is almost always deadly when symptoms occur.
Rabies spread through infected saliva primarily through the bite of rabid animals. It can also spread rabies when saliva from an infected animal enters open wounds, cuts or enters through eye, nose, or mouth membranes.
Here are some precautions you can take 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.
- 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.
People who may have come in contact with, or had their pets come in contact with, the bat are encouraged to contact the Public Health Communicable Disease Division at (719) 578-3220.