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LOCAL & STATE SITUATION

In Mesa County, ten animals, both domestic and wild, have been submitted for rabies testing so far in 2022. At this point, there have been no positive results. On average, about 30 animals are tested for rabies every year in Mesa County. Only a handful of tests come back positive, most of them being bats. Low cases of rabies in Mesa County suggest good vaccination rates in domestic animals and limited interactions with wild animals. Statewide, 43 cases of rabies have been recorded in Colorado this year involving bats, wildlife, livestock, and domestic pets. 

“Because we have vaccination programs for animals, rabies has not been a big problem locally and we need to keep it that way,” said Thomas Orr, Regional Disease Surveillance Specialist for Mesa County Public Health.

 

BACKGROUND

Rabies is a viral disease most commonly spread through a bite from an infected animal or exposure to its saliva. During the summer, rabies is typically found in bats in Mesa County. However, other animals like raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and skunks can also carry the disease. In animals, rabies can cause unusual behavior such as excessive aggression in domesticated animals and docile or erratic behavior in wild animals. However, some rabid animals can appear normal.

Every year in Colorado, many people need multiple expensive vaccinations due to exposure to an animal that is known or suspected to carry rabies. A rabies infection is almost always fatal in humans once symptoms start, but rabies is completely preventable with post-exposure treatment. 

 

PREVENTION

Mesa County Public Health is being proactive with rabies education and preparedness. There are steps you can take to protect your family and pets:

  • Make sure pets are up to date on rabies vaccinations. Unvaccinated pets that are exposed to rabies may need to undergo a lengthy and costly period of observation.
  • License your pets with Mesa County Animal Services.
  • Keep your animals under control to avoid confrontation with wildlife.
  • Call your veterinarian if you think your pet has been in contact with a wild animal.
  • Stay away from wild animals, whether they are dead or alive.
  • Do not try to rescue hurt or sick wild animals-you are more likely to harm the animal than help it. Contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife instead.
  • Do not keep wild animals as pets.
  • Contact Mesa County Animal Services if you find a bat or other wildlife in your home.

If you suffer an animal bite, seek medical attention right away and report it to Mesa County Animal Services at 970-242-4646. Animal bites not only have the potential to cause rabies, but can cause infections as well. All animal bites are reportable.

 

WHO TO CALL

  • If an animal bites you, call your doctor & Mesa County Animal Services at 970-242-4646.
  • If you find a bat or other wildlife in your home, call Mesa County Animal Services at 970-242-4646.
  • If you come across hurt or sick wildlife, contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 970-255-6100.