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Confirmed Rabies Infections in Colorado Already Near 2016 Total

Sleeping bats
Thinkstock Photo

Summer is the season in Colorado when most rabies infections occur. However, with a spike in the number of cases in April and May, 2017 is poised to exceed the total number of cases in 2016 before summer’s end.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reported a total of 88 confirmed rabies infections in 2016.

This year, as of July 7, there have been 84 confirmed infections including two pet dogs who were both diagnosed with rabies in May. One of the dogs in Yuma County, the other in Weld County.

This was the first time since 2003 that dogs have tested positive for the virus. In 2016, three cats were found to have rabies

In Colorado, the two primary carriers of the rabies virus are skunks and bats. One coyote and four foxes have also tested positive this year.

Almost all of the confirmed cases of rabies over the last 18 months are from counties on Colorado’s Front Range, but CDPHE officials say rabies, especially in bats, exists throughout the state with rabies infected bats found in both Eagle and Pitkin counties last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the best way to avoid contracting rabies starts with your pets. Rabies vaccinations and limiting your pet’s contact with wildlife are the most important.

Human cases of rabies from wild animals are rare as direct exposure is limited. Bites by domestic animals are usually the way humans get rabies. For that reason, it’s a good idea to report stray animals to authorities. That reduces the risk for both you and your pet.

If you are bitten by an animal and you don’t know if it has been vaccinated, your doctor may recommend getting tested. The virus is treatable and in almost every case, curable if caught early.

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