June 16, 2023

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A bat test positive for rabies in La Plata County

KSUT Tribal Radio | By Sarah Flower

A bat found in the Durango area last week tested positive for Rabies.

A news release sent out by San Juan Basin Public Health Department indicated no human interaction, but vaccinated pets that were exposed had received booster rabies shots.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Rabies is regularly found in Colorado wildlife, especially skunks and bats.

San Juan Basin Public Health urges residents to stay away from stray and wild animals, check pets’ vaccination status (even indoor pets can be exposed), and take other precautions to avoid Rabies.

CDPHE says Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid animals and is almost always fatal in humans once symptoms appear. People who have been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal should contact their healthcare provider immediately to reduce the risk of Rabies.

To avoid rabies:

  • Never touch or feed wild or stray animals. Don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you see a sick or orphaned animal, do not touch it; instead contact La Plata County Animal Protection.
  • 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) during the day while outside.
  • 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. Information is available at www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management
  • If a bat has been present in a room in which people have been sleeping, it is important that the bat is safely trapped and tested for rabies. If a bat cannot be tested or there are multiple bats in the home, post-exposure treatment of anyone living in the home is recommended.
  • Contact SJBPH for guidance on safe capture, testing of bats, and follow-up. To recognize sick wildlife:

    • Many healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans; sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.
    • Wildlife with rabies may act aggressively or will violently approach people or pets.
    • Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. Don’t bother them.

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