El Paso County, Colorado – A bat found outside Alta Convenience Store, 3945 Palmer Park Blvd., has tested positive for rabies. This is the first rabid bat in El Paso County in 2018.
Customers first spotted the bat under an ice machine at the store on Thursday, May 31. Anyone who may have touched the bat or believe that a child or pet had contact with the bat on or after May 31 should call El Paso County Public Health immediately at (719) 578-3220 because they may be at risk for getting rabies.
On Tuesday, June 5, El Paso County Public Health was notified of a possible exposure to a customer, and the bat was captured for testing. On June 7, the bat tested positive for rabies at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory.
“The likelihood of exposure to the public is low, however El Paso County Public Health is taking precautionary steps to determine if anyone is at risk for exposure,” said Shannon Rowe, El Paso County Public Health Epidemiologist.
There is medication available for exposed people that will prevent rabies infection. Those who saw the bat or were in the area and had no physical contact are not at risk.
Rabies is fatal in humans if exposed by a bite or scratch from a rabid animal, and not treated. It can be spread from a bat to a person or pet by a bite or scratch, even if very small or barely noticeable. Rabies also can be spread when saliva from an infected animal gets into open wounds, cuts or enters through membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.
For general questions about rabies, call COHELP at 1-877-462-2911, available Monday - Friday from 9 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Take these precautions to prevent rabies:
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies by using a licensed veterinarian. Rabies shots need to be boosted, so check your pet’s records or talk to your veterinarian.
- When walking or hiking with your dog, protect them and wildlife by keeping your dog on a leash.
- Keep cats and other pets inside at night to reduce the risk of exposure to other domestic animals and wildlife. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard, or on leash) during the day while outside.
- Contact your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
- Do not touch or feed wild animals. Wild animals like skunks and foxes adapt to residential environments if food is available – please don’t leave pet food outdoors.
- If you or a family member is bitten or scratched by a wild or unknown animal, call your doctor and El Paso County Public Health at (719) 578-3220.
- To report an animal bite from a domestic or wild animal go to https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/report-an-animal-bite.
- If you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat, contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for options (719) 473-1741.
- Contact an animal-control specialist for assistance with “bat-proofing” your home. Information is also available at www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management.
How to recognize sick wildlife:
- Healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans.
- Sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.
- Wildlife suffering from rabies will often act aggressively and violently approach people or pets.
- However, sometimes rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. If they are hiding, leave them alone. Rabid wildlife might also stumble or have trouble walking.
- Report sick or diseased animals to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife at (719) 227-5200.
El Paso County rabies confirmed cases (2010-2018)
2018: 51 (50 skunks, 1 bat)
2017: 28 (7 bats, 21 skunks)
2016: 3 (bats)
2015: 6 (5 bats, 1 cat)
2014: 10 (bats)
2013: 8 (4 bats, 2 foxes, 2 skunks)
2012: 3 (bats)
2011: 15 (5 bats, 1 fox, 9 skunks)
2010: 17 (8 bats, 4 foxes, 5 skunks)
For more information go to www.elpasocountyhealth.org.