Raccoon and Fox in Boulder County Test Positive for Rabies

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A fox found in Lyons near 2nd Avenue and Stickney Avenue and a raccoon found in Boulder near 9th Street and Kalmia Avenue have both tested positive for rabies.

So far this year, 7 animals in Boulder County and 40 in the state have tested positive for rabies. Last year in Boulder County 24 animals tested positive for rabies, including 9 skunks.

Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is 100% fatal unless it is treated before any symptoms appear.

“Bats are the most common animal source of rabies in Colorado, but of the seven animals testing positive in Boulder County so far this year, five have been terrestrial,” said Lane Drager, Consumer Protection Program coordinator for Boulder County Public Health.

Terrestrial rabies, such as skunk rabies, is carried by animals that travel predominantly on the ground such as skunks, raccoons, and foxes.

“Rabies in these ground-dwelling animals increases the risk of rabies exposure to pets, livestock, and humans,” said Drager. “If you know of a person or domestic animal that may have had contact with wildlife, or if you see wildlife that looks sick or is acting unusual, call local animal control.”

Vaccinating dogs, cats, horses, and livestock against rabies is the most important and effective way to protect both animals and humans from contracting rabies. Owners of livestock should discuss rabies vaccination with their veterinarians.

Exposure to rabies is generally the result of a bite or scratch by an infected animal, which can sometimes be practically undetectable, such as a tiny puncture of the skin by a bat. Treatment for rabies exposure involves a series of vaccinations.

Public health officials recommend the following precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies:

  • DO NOT handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Contact animal control to collect the animal.
  • Thoroughly wash any wound caused by an animal with soap and water, and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Keep vaccinations current for all dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses.
  • Maintain control of pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
  • Teach children to leave wildlife alone.
  • Do not leave pet food or livestock feed in areas that are accessible to wildlife.
  • If a person or pet has been scratched, bitten by, or has had contact with a bat or wild animal, seek medical care immediately, and then contact your local animal control agency or Boulder County Public Health to arrange for rabies testing.

Learn more about rabies or call 303-441-1564.

Chana Goussetis
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Boulder County Public Health

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