Following two confirmed rabies cases in Weld and Yuma counties, animal owners in Northwest Colorado are being encouraged to vaccinate their pets. Rabies vaccinations should be administered every three years, however, it tends to be something that animal owners forget. Rabies is predominantly spread through a bite from a rabid animal. The disease can be deadly to humans, so anyone bitten or scratched by an unknown animal, should have their injuries inspected immediately by a doctor. To help prevent the spread of rabies, the public is asked to report any animals that appear to be acting strangely to the State Health Department. Tips on how to spot and avoid animals with rabies are available below.
To avoid rabies:
• Never touch or feed wild or stray animals. Don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you need help with a sick or orphaned animal, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Contact a nearby animal shelter if you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat.
• Vaccinate your pets. Use a licensed veterinarian, and make sure you keep up with pets’ booster shots.
• Leash your dog. Protect dogs and wildlife by keeping your pet on a leash while walking or hiking.
• Keep cats and other pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard or on leash) when they are outside during the day.
• Call your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
• Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine.
• Bat-proof your home. Learn how at this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page.
How to recognizing sick wildlife:
• Many healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans. However, sick animals often do not run away when they’re near people.
• Wildlife with rabies often will act aggressively or violently approach people or pets.
• Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. Don’t bother them.
• Rabid wildlife might have trouble walking, flying, eating or drinking.
For additional information on rabies, see the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment webpage.