Rabid dog in Yuma County
The Northeast Colorado Health Department would like to remind everyone that as we move into the spring and summer months, we tend to see increased pet and human exposures to rabid animals.
Vaccinating your pets, and keeping those vaccinations current are the first line of defense to keep your family safe. Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals, resulting in a fatal disease.
The most common route of rabies transmission is from the bite or scratch of a rabid animal; however, transmission can also occur through contact with saliva or nervous system tissue of a rabid animal with eyes, nose, mouth, or an open cut or wound. Signs of rabies in animals can include abnormal behavior like being active in the day for nocturnal species, approaching humans or other animals without fear, aggressive behavior, difficulty walking and unusual vocalization.
According to Dr. Tony Cappello, NCHD’s public health director, there has been a substantial increase in the number of rabid skunks in Northeast Colorado since the beginning of the year. With this kind of an increase, there is the worry that the virus will cross over into other species, including foxes, coyotes, raccoons, feral cats and un-vaccinated pets.
“When pets go unvaccinated, it significantly increases the risk of human exposure and it is important to remember that this is a serious and fatal disease without the proper treatment”.
Dr. Cappello, recommends preventing possible exposure to rabies by keeping pets’ rabies vaccinations up to date; leaving wildlife alone, especially if ill or injured; and not taking in or feeding stray animals, particularly feral cats.
If you suspect a family member or pet has been bitten or scratched, or if you find a bat in your home, contact your medical provider, the Northeast Colorado Health Department or your pet’s veterinarian immediately. For more information, visit www.nchd.org/rabies or call 970-522-3741.