Public Health Emerging Issues – July 11, 2018


LEAVE WILDLIFE WILD TO PREVENT RABIES

  • Twenty-one people in Weld County need to be treated for rabies with expensive vaccinations after contact with a baby raccoon.
    • A woman found the animal on her property and thought she was rescuing it. Unfortunately, the animal tested positive for rabies.
  • Rabies is a viral disease most commonly spread through the bite of an infected animal.
    • In animals, the disease causes strange behavior such as excessive aggression in domesticated animals and shy, timid behavior in wild animals.
    • In humans, rabies can cause discomfort at the site of the bite, general weakness or discomfort, fever and headache. As the disease progresses, delirium, hallucinations, insomnia and abnormal behavior can occur.
      • Rabies infection is almost always fatal in humans, so seek medical attention as soon as possible after an animal bite.
    • On average, Mesa County tests about 30 animals for rabies each year. A handful of those typically come back positive.
      • Twelve animals have been tested for rabies in Mesa County in 2018 with no positive results.
    • Leave wildlife wild!
      • It is illegal to own wildlife in Colorado.
      • Do not try to rescue an injured or sick animal.
        • When you “rescue” a wild animal, you’re actually harming it.
        • Many animals, including fawns and calves, are left in the wild by their mothers in order to feed and learn how to live in the wild.
          • Many baby animals have natural camouflage, and lie very still. In most cases, they aren’t abandoned.
          • If they appear healthy, mom is nearby.
          • If you know the mother has been killed or injured, or the young animal appears sick or weak, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) at (970) 255-6100. Do not take matters into your own hands!
          • If you find a baby songbird that has fallen out of its nest, you can place it back in the nest if it is safe to do so. The mother will continue to feed it.
            • Be sure to wash your hands well after you touch the bird.
          • Do not keep wild animals as pets.
        • Remember, even helpless otherwise healthy-looking animals can carry diseases.
        • Learn more about living with wildlife here.
      • What to do if you find multiple dead animals on your property.
        • Contact CPW at (970) 255-6100.
        • Do not dispose of or touch the animals.
        • Keep your pets and children away from the carcasses.
      • What to do if you find a bat or wildlife in your home.
        • Contact Mesa County Animal Services (MCAS) at (970)-242-4646.
        • Do not remove the bat or wildlife from your home – dead or alive. Testing them for rabies may keep you from having to pay for expensive post-exposure rabies treatment.
      • Mesa County Public Health works with MCAS and CPW to test animals for rabies and other diseases and educate residents about rabies risk in our community.

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