SAGUACHE COUNTY – A bat in Saguache County tested positive for rabies this week. Public Health is working to identify anyone who may have been exposed to this bat.
“We want to remind the public to protect themselves and their animals,” said Ginger Stringer, SLV regional epidemiologist. “If you find a bat in your house, don’t shoo it out the window un-less you are sure it didn’t have contact with anyone in the room.” Bat bites are so small that they are extremely difficult to detect. If you are awakened by a bat in your bedroom, or if you find a bat in a room with an unattended child, a mentally impaired person or an intoxicated person, try to safely capture the bat and call your local public health office so that the bat can be tested.
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 other mam-mals. It infects the nervous system and can cause difficulty breathing, paralysis, loss of con-sciousness and death.
Fortunately, rabies is preventable. Have your pets vaccinated for rabies, and if your pet comes in contact with a bat or a skunk, notify a veterinarian and/or public health department right away. 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 exhib-iting strange behavior, call your local animal control or law enforcement agency and do not touch the animal.
Colorado has seen a significant increase in rabies in recent years along the Front Range and to a lesser extent in eastern Colorado. For more information about rabies please call your county health department or visit www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies.