Three bats test positive for rabies in Berthoud

By Amber McIver-Traywick

The Surveyor

Three bats have tested positive for rabies in Berthoud this year. There have been a total of seven bats in Larimer County that have tested positive for the disease. Other infected animals in the county have included 39 skunks, one cat and one cow. Larimer County has had the highest incidence of rabies in the state this year, with a staggering 47 lab-confirmed cases. The next closest county to those numbers is El Paso County with 11 cases.

The bats were found in three different locations this summer. The first was found not far from the downtown area of Berthoud in the 100 block of Hummingbird Place near Berthoud Park and the Berthoud swimming pool. The second was located south of town in the 1200 block of Glenview Drive, and the final rabies-positive bat was found north of town in the 1100 block of Meadowlark Dive near Loveland Reservoir.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects warm-blooded mammals. The rabies virus infects the nervous system and causes swelling of the brain, eventually resulting in death. Historically, bats have been the main source of rabies exposures, however, rabid skunks have now become the most prolific rabies-positive animals in Larimer County, and they are expected to pose a rabies risk year-round. It’s important to note any warm-blooded mammal can be infected with rabies. In Larimer County this has included raccoons, foxes, cats, and even bison – and as has been the case this year, even in cattle and other livestock. Most bats and skunks do not carry rabies and pose little health risk. If there is no direct contact with pets or people, you should generally let them go on their way unless they exhibit unusual behaviors.

Behaviors you should watch for that might indicate an animal is sick with rabies are; normally nocturnal animals out during the day; such as skunks and bats, animals stumbling, weak or paralyzed, bats on the ground unable to fly, unusually aggressive or tame behavior while approaching humans or pets.  

Rabies is preventable, but it takes being observant and taking action when needed to avoid the disease. The best way to avoid rabies is to stay away from making any type of contact with wild animals and keep pets and animals up to date on rabies vaccines. There is no treatment once an animal or human shows symptoms. Rabies is 100% preventable but once a human or animal shows symptoms, it is almost 100% fatal.

Exposure to rabies should be treated preventatively in humans within seven days of exposure, but the sooner the better. Pets and other domestic animals can be protected from getting this disease through vaccination, but there is no effective post-exposure treatment for unvaccinated animals.

If you do come in contact with an animal that you suspect could be infected call your health care provider or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-646-1756.

Additional tips to stay safe:  Don’t keep wild animals as pets. ·  Avoid handling wild or feral animals. ·  Avoid animals showing unusual behavior. ·  Prevent contact between pets and wildlife. Obey leash laws. ·  Feed your pets indoors and don’t leave pet food outside or uncovered in a barn. ·  Put trash in secure bins and animal-proof if needed. ·  Prevent wildlife from getting into your house. ·  Report stray animals that appear to be sick to animal control at 970-226-3647.

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