Rabid bat discovered in Breckenridge
Summit County Public Health announced Friday that a rabid bat was found inside a home in the Peak 7 Neighborhood of Breckenridge. After the bat was removed and positively tested for rabies, the home’s occupants and animals had been screened and given recommendations on preventing the transmission of rabies.
Human-contracted rabies cases are extremely rare in the U.S., with only one to three cases reported nationwide each year. However, the virus is almost 100% fatal without swift medical intervention, and spreads mainly through the saliva of mammals. Skunks are the most common reservoir for the virus, followed by bats, raccoons and foxes.
Public Health Nurse Lauren Gilbert said that there had not been a positive rabies case in Summit County for several years, but that the disease is endemic to the environment and can pop up at any time.
Gilbert said that Grand and Routt counties had bats test positive for rabies this year, and that the state had 150 infected cases reported this year. That is a decrease from 2018, when 325 confirmed cases of rabies were recorded. Most cases are on the Front Range and in the southwest portion of the state.
Garfield County issued a rabies alert in September, as seasonal bat activity began to increase.
Gilbert asked residents not to attempt to capture, release or kill possibly rabid animals, as they need to be alive for testing.
If you suspect you have been bitten by a rabid animal, or have been exposed to one, seek medical attention immediately. The virus can be stopped in its incubation stage with a combination treatment involving immunoglobulin treatment and a course of prophylactic vaccines. However, once symptoms start appearing — including fever, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, hallucinations, abnormal behavior and delerium — the disease is almost always fatal.
– Don’t touch or feed wild or stray animals, and don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you see a sick or orphaned animal, do not touch it; instead contact the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control at 970-945-0453, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) at 970-947-2920.
– For questions related to potential rabies exposure or rabies testing, contact Garfield County Public Health in Rifle at 970-625-5200, or Glenwood Springs at 970-945-6614.
– Vaccinate your pets. Use a licensed veterinarian, and make sure you keep up with pets’ booster shots.
– Unvaccinated pets exposed to rabid wildlife must be placed in quarantine for up to 120 days or be euthanized. This can be avoided if the animal has been vaccinated.
– Keep cats and other pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard or on leash) during the day while outside.
– Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine.
– Bat-proof your home. Information is available at cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management.
Residents are also advised that bats are not an automatic threat to humans, and are beneficial for the environment, and to not attempt culling of the animals, which are important natural pollinators and pest controllers.
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