San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) reports that two bats have tested positive for rabies over the past month in La Plata County. Bats are by far the most common carriers of rabies in Colorado. When a potential bat exposure occurs, SJBPH has strict guidance when recommending post-exposure treatment. 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 is recommended. Please contact SJBPH for guidance on safe capture, testing of bats, and follow-up.
It is important to keep vaccinations current for cats, dogs, and other animals. According to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Rabies Prevention and Control Policy, precautions must be taken if there is suspicion that a pet has had sufficient contact with a wild animal that is unable to be tested, or has tested positive for rabies.
Humans can get rabies from the bite of a rabies-infected animal (rabid animal) or through contact with its saliva (i.e. in a wound, eyes, nose and mouth). Any wild mammal, such as raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote, or bat can have rabies and transmit it to humans through a bite.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Do not touch live or dead wild animals.
- Ensure your residence is ‘bat proof’. Keep your doors and windows closed. Make sure your window screens don’t have holes, and keep your attic free of bats by making sure all vents are properly screened.
- Seek professional bat control if your work or home is inhabited by bats.
- Do not feed wildlife.
- Individuals are urged to keep their pets and livestock current for rabies vaccination to protect them and your family.
Please contact your vet first and then SJBPH at 970-335-2001 if your pet has had an encounter with a wild animal.