When people think of rabies, they often think of a disease from yesteryear. Images of “Ol’ Yeller” come to mind. Rabies is surely not a disease of the modern era, right? Rabies is just something veterinarians fuss about with vaccines and tags for the collar of your favorite pet, right? Rabies is not a real threat in the era of the Internet and space exploration, right? Not exactly.
Unfortunately we are reminded that old and ancient rabies is closer than we imagine. Rabies is not extinct but quite common. On March 5, 2018 the El Paso County Health Department issued a public service announcement that a skunk tested positive for rabies virus in a neighborhood on the north edge of Palmer Park. In this announcement they reveal 5 confirmed cases already for our county alone in 2018 in addition to the 21 skunks and 7 bats that were positive for the disease last year.
A charm of living in Colorado is living so close to breathtaking nature, but the power of nature must be respected. The El Paso County Health Department makes many recommendations to protect your family and pets from this classically fatal disease. The most obvious recommendation is to keep BOTH dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies virus in accordance with the law. This includes indoor cats, especially. Also, keeping dogs leashed when outdoors is advised, again so your pets don’t chase after wildlife. They advise staying inside at night with your pets. The Health Department warns us that healthy wildlife are generally afraid of humans. In other words, a normally reclusive or mostly nocturnal species, like a skunk, visible during the day near humans (rather than fleeing) is a sign of danger. Maintenance of structures and seals on fireplaces and the upper stories of barns and storage buildings may prevent entry by bats. Finally, report all bites from wildlife immediately to El Paso County Health Department as well as any time your pet is bitten by wildlife to Rabies Animal Control.
For more information, use the following link: https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/press-release/rabies