Summer brings increase in wild animal encounters
Grand County Public Health
Each summer in Grand County, Grand County Public Health is notified of incidents involving humans being scratched or bitten by wild animals. We often recommend that these individuals receive a series of vaccinations to prevent rabies.
Rabies is a viral illness that may be passed to humans by many types of mammals including skunks, dogs, cats, bats, raccoons and foxes. This year so far, 47 animals have tested positive for rabies in 14 different Colorado counties. Currently, skunks are considered the main reservoir of rabies in Colorado with bats not far behind. Animals infected with rabies may be very aggressive or unusually passive. Be wary of an animal that doesn’t flee when approached.
It is very important to avoid contact with wild animals and to teach children to avoid contact. They should know never to approach an animal in the wild or to attempt to catch or pick-up a bat that may enter a building. Encounters with rabid animals can lead to rabies infection. Once the symptoms of rabies infection appear, the disease is almost always fatal. The vaccine, used in combination with rabies immune globulin, is highly effective in preventing infection, but requires 5 injections given at four separate clinic visits at a cost of over $1,500. Avoiding contact is by far the better choice! Other strategies to decrease risk include:
• Keep your pet’s rabies shots current
• Feed pets indoors & never leave pet food outside where it can attract wild animals
• Tightly close garbage cans & feed bins
• Seal openings in homes, sheds or barns where bats can enter
• Remember: DON’T FEED WILD ANIMALS INCLUDING THE CUTE DEER, FOX AND RACCOON! TEACH CHILDREN NOT TO FEED OR HANDLE WILD ANIMALS!
For more information on rabies contact Tracey Yoo, RN, at Grand County Public Health: 970-725-3288.
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