SAN LUIS VALLEY— According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 125 animals have tested positive for rabies in 2019 so far. In the past five years, three counties in the San Luis Valley have documented a rabies positive bat – Alamosa, Saguache, and Mineral. Local public health, law enforcement and veterinarians continue to work together in rabies surveillance efforts and animal testing.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals and damages the nervous system causing swelling of the brain. Although all mammals are susceptible to rabies, bats and skunks are the most common species carrying the rabies virus in Colorado. Rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals and can be passed to humans and can cause difficulty breathing, paralysis, loss of consciousness and almost always leads to death.
The good news is rabies can be prevented! Please remember to have your pets get their rabies vaccination and notify a veterinarian and/or public health department if they do come in contact with a bat or a skunk. Also remember not to feed, touch or adopt wild animals and be cautious around stray cats and dogs. Rabid animals do not always appear vicious. If you notice a wild animal exhibiting strange behavior, do not touch it and call your local animal control agency.
For more information about rabies please call your county health department or for online resources including: data tables, maps, prevention measures and reporting numbers in your area please visit the state health department’s rabies page at www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies.
Alamosa County Public Health Department: 719.589.6639
Conejos County Public Health and Nursing Service: 719.274.4307
Costilla County Public Health Agency: 719.672.3332
Silver Thread Public Health District - Mineral County: 719.658.2416
Rio Grande County Public Health Agency: 719.657.3352
Saguache County Public Health: 719.655.2533