Bat found outside school in El Paso Co. is the latest to test positive for rabies in CO

DENVER — A bat found outside an elementary school in El Paso County tested positive for rabies, adding to the few rabies cases detected so far in the state this year.

The bat, found at Grant Elementary School on May 14, was tested and confirmed positive for the virus three days later. It is the first animal to test positive for the disease in El Paso County this year.

There are currently no known exposures between the bat and any students or staff at Grant Elementary, El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) officials said in a news release Tuesday.

“Bats live naturally in our region and can be found anywhere in and around our county,” said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, co-medical director for El Paso County Public Health. “During the summer months, we typically see more cases of rabies among wildlife, including bats. With warmer days and people spending more time outdoors, people or pets may encounter a bat.”

Two people exposed to rabies in Arapahoe County

A bat found in Englewood near Quincy Ave. and Santa Fe Dr. recently tested positive for rabies, the first case in Arapahoe County this year, according to Arapahoe County Public Health (ACPH) officials, who said in a statement News reports on Tuesday that although two people had been exposed to the deadly pathogen, they had begun preventive treatment to avoid becoming infected and sick.

Health officials in Arapahoe County asked people who may have come into direct contact with a bat, especially if it was near this area, to immediately contact their doctor or Arapahoe County Public Health at 303 -734-4379 to assess rabies risk and any needs. for treatment.

“It’s important to take potential rabies exposure seriously, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal. For example, if you have a bat in your home, it can be difficult to even know if you have been bitten, since bat bites are small, often painless, and can occur quickly while you are trying to catch the animal or while you are asleep. ”said Melissa Adair, communicable disease epidemiology manager.

First rabid bat of the season found in Larimer County

The first rabid outbreak of the 2024 season was found on April 25 on a porch in a neighborhood near Drake and Timberline in Fort Collins, according to Larimer County Public Health (LCPH) officials.

Public health officials in that county did not say whether anyone had been exposed, but the county medical officer for LCPH said he could not “overstate the critical importance of preventing contact with wildlife and knowing what to do if contact occurs.” .

So far this year, Colorado has identified four cases of rabies statewide, according to health officials.

In 2023, there were 55 cases of rabies in Colorado, 47 of which occurred in bats, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

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Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

What is rabies and how you can reduce the risk of becoming infected

According to health officials, the rabies virus is shed in the saliva of infected animals and is almost always fatal if not treated soon after exposure.

People or animals can get rabies from the bite or scratch of a rabid animal or from the saliva of a rabid animal if it comes into contact with their eyes, nose, mouth, or open wounds, in which case immediate medical attention is necessary, according to the CDC. .

You can prevent getting rabies by taking the following precautions:

  • Vaccinate all domestic animals and valuable livestock against rabies and ensure vaccinations are up to date. A domestic animal encounter with any wild animal will be treated as an exposure to a rabid animal. Pets without up-to-date rabies vaccinations will be classified as high risk and must undergo a 120-day quarantine.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals, especially those that act unusual. A healthy wild animal will generally avoid human contact. Do not feed wild animals as this reduces their natural fear of humans.
  • Teach children to stay away from all wild animals, stray pets, or dead animals, and to tell an adult if they are scratched or bitten. Remind children of all ages that a sick, dying, or dead animal can carry diseases that humans can contract; Trying to help an animal can cause more harm than good.
  • Do not allow pets to roam freely, as this can increase the chance of them being exposed without your knowledge. Do not leave pet food or livestock feed outside or feed your pet outdoors more than it can finish, as this will encourage the presence of wildlife.
  • If your pet comes into contact with a wild animal, wear gloves while cleaning it to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus.
  • If a person has been bitten or scratched by a wild mammal, they should wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, seek immediate medical attention, and notify their local animal control agency. Prompt medical treatment is key to preventing rabies after possible exposure.

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | May 21, 11 a.m.

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