by Dr. Mark B. Johnson, Jefferson County Public Health Executive Director
comments open from April 23 until May 12
One of the best ways to show your pets how much you love them is to make sure they are protected from rabies. Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system in animals and humans. If you do not vaccinate your pets, you are putting your entire family at risk. It is also important to keep your pets on leashes when they are out in the community. Livestock may also be exposed to rabies and owners should be vigilant in monitoring health issues in their animals, and discuss any animal health concerns with their local veterinarian.
Rabies in wild animals is on the rise, especially in bats and skunks in the state of Colorado. As of April 17, 2015, Colorado State University and CDPHE laboratories have confirmed rabies in 24 animals (two bats, 20 skunks, one raccoon and one cat) in Colorado. Of these, nine (38%) rabid animals were known or strongly suspected of exposing 20 domestic animals and 20 humans. Wild animals can infect your pets if they are not protected.
The Foothills Animal Shelter provides low cost vaccinations as well as links to other vaccination clinics throughout the county. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Kids Page on Rabies or read our JCPH Rabies brochure.
Residents and visitors are advised to avoid all stray or wild animals, keep pets (dogs, cats, ferrets, livestock) vaccinated against rabies and, don’t allow pets to roam free. Everyone is advised not to handle wild animals. If bitten or scratched by a pet or wild animal, immediately wash any wounds with soap and water and contact your family doctor.
For additional information on rabies, contact Jefferson County Public Health Zoonosis Program at 303-232-6301.
In addition to rabies vaccinations for pets and livestock, here are some additional precautions to prevent possible exposure to rabies:
• Do not feed, touch, or handle wild animals.
• If you find a bat inside your home, do not let it out or discard of it. Call animal control so that the animal can be tested. Otherwise, exposure is assumed and quarantine and/or prophylaxis will be required.
• If you must remove a dead animal on your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double-bag it for the trash. Do not directly touch the animal with bare hands.
• Call your local animal control office to remove stray animals from your neighborhood
• Teach children to leave wildlife alone.
• Do not leave pet food or livestock feed in areas accessible to wildlife.
• Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
• Spay or neuter your pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in your community.
• Rabies vaccination should be considered for horses and other equines, breeding livestock, dairy cattle or other livestock.
• Call the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife at (303) 297-1192 if you have problems with wild animals.
If you are concerned that you or one of your animals might have been exposed to rabies, seek medical or veterinary attention immediately.
• Wildlife Rabies and You (brochure)
• For more information or to report a suspicious animal, please contact your local animal control agency or Jefferson County Animal Control: 303-271-5070
• For more information about rabies contact Environmental Health Services Animal Borne Disease Program at 303-232-6301 or visit the Jeffco Public Health site at www.jeffco.us/health.
• Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Rabies Data on their website at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies-data