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Jeffco Public Health = Rabies on Increase!

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Location: Jefferson County, Colorado

PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 10:52 am    Post subject: Jeffco Public Health = Rabies on Increase! Reply with quote

Public Service Announcement

May 13, 2010
Contact: Nancy Braden
Public Health Communications
303-239-7137 or
Animal Borne Disease Program

Rabies on the Increase along the Front Range

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) along with a coalition of human and animal health agencies are warning of an increase in rabies along the Front Range of Colorado. JCPH urges people to consider having their horses vaccinated against rabies, as well as reminds pet owners of the importance of keeping dog and cat rabies vaccinations up-to-date.

The first known case of rabies in a Colorado horse in the past 25 years was confirmed in El Paso County in September of 2009, another case was confirmed in eastern Arapahoe County in April of 2010. The American Horse Council Foundation estimates that there are 256,000 horses in Colorado, with a total economic impact of $1.6 billion a year. Over 100,000 Coloradans are involved in the horse industry, including horse owners, employees and volunteers.

Bats have historically been the main carriers of rabies in Colorado, however, this year it is rabid skunks that are of particular concern. Forty-one skunks have tested positive for rabies this year compared with zero bats thus far. Unlike bats―which have only sporadic contact with humans and animals―skunks often live near homes and barns, increasing the chances of contact with dogs, cats, horses and farm animals. Domestic animals can then become infected, placing humans at even greater risk for exposure.

Dave Volkel, JCPH Animal Borne Disease Program, points out that, “the chances of encountering a rabid skunk on the ground are a great deal higher then the chances of encountering a bat, thus rabies in skunks presents more of a threat to unattended livestock and free roaming pets.” Having dogs, cats, horses, and livestock vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian is the simplest and most effective way to protect both animals and humans from rabies.

“Animal owners need to be aware that the incidence of rabies is increasing and the virus is transferring from one species to another,” said Dr. Keith Roehr, State Veterinarian, Colorado Department of Agriculture. Owners are advised to monitor their animals for symptoms; and use resources available to them through their local veterinarians to protect their livestock and pets from rabies.

Rabies is caused by a virus, which affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. The virus is present in the saliva of infected animals. People or animals can get rabies from a bite or contact with saliva of any rabid animal―whether that is a wild animal or an infected pet, horse or farm animal. Immediate treatment is required after human exposure to an infected animal’s saliva.

In addition to rabies vaccinations for pets and livestock, there are additional precautions to prevent possible exposure to rabies:

• Do not feed, touch, or handle wild animals.
• 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.
• Call your local animal control office to remove stray animals from your neighborhood Jefferson County
• Call the Colorado Division of 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.

• For more information or to report a suspicious animal, please contact Jefferson County Animal Control:
• For more information about rabies is available at or contact Environmental Health Services Animal Borne Disease Program at 303-271-5700 or visit
• Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Rabies Surveillance Map:

# # #

The agencies currently participating in this statewide rabies vaccination campaign include:
Colorado Department of Agriculture
Colorado Veterinary Medical Association
Colorado Federation of Animal Welfare Agencies
Colorado Association of Animal Control Officers
Westernaires Precision Horse Drill Team
Colorado Horse Council
Colorado Horse Development Authority
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and all local health departments along the Front Range, including Boulder, Denver, Elbert, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, Tri-County (Adams, Arapahoe, Douglas) and Weld Counties
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