A bat flying erratically during daylight hours, a raccoon slowly wandering down the middle of a road, a fox that does not run away when you approach, and a dead skunk in your horse’s corral.
What do these four wild animals have in common?
The animals in these scenarios are acting abnormally and could have rabies, a neurologic disease that is most likely fatal to unvaccinated humans and animals.
Rabies is a zoonotic disease—meaning it can be passed between animals and people—and confirmed cases have notably climbed in Colorado in recent years. With rabies clearly present in wild animals that are common in rural, suburban, and urban areas, it is important that animal owners:
- Check vaccination records for their pets;
- Vaccinate any pets that lack current rabies vaccinations;
- Vaccinate horses and frequently handled livestock;
- Notice critters in the environment, and watch for animals that seem sickly or act abnormally;
- Never approach or touch a wild animal that seems sick or acts strangely; rather, call a local animal control office immediately to report the time and location of such a sighting; and
- Talk to a veterinarian for more information or about specific concerns.
Rabies on the Rise in Colorado
The main hosts of rabies in the United States are raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes, in that order. In Colorado for the past 20 years, bats have been the primary rabies host; about 15% of the bats tested are positive for rabies.
But since 2007, Colorado has seen an uptick in the number of wildlife testing positive for rabi