Two dogs in northern Colorado test positive for rabies

DENVER — Two dogs in northern Colorado have tested positive for rabies, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

One of the cases was in Weld County, which is in the Greeley area, and the other was in Yuma County, which is on the Kansas-Nebraska border.

The department said these are the first cases of rabies in dogs in Colorado since 2003, when a dog from Texas tested positive here. The last time a dog developed rabies in Colorado was in 1974.

The department said everyone who made contact with the two dogs has been identified, and the dogs did not create a risk to other members of the public.

There have been 41 cases of rabies confirmed in wild animals in Colorado this year. The department said rabies is regularly found in Colorado wildlife, especially skunks.

Colorado has seen a higher number of rabid skunks this year compared to last, according to the department. This skunk variant of rabies first was identified in Colorado in 2007 in the eastern border counties. Since then, it has spread throughout eastern Colorado, including the Front Range.

Rabies spreads primarily through the bite of rabid animals. It usually is fatal in humans once symptoms appear. People who have been bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal should contact their health care provider immediately to prevent the disease.

The department offered the following tips for avoiding rabies:

  • Never touch or feed wild or stray animals. Don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you need help with a sick or orphaned animal, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. Contact a nearby animal shelter if you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat.
  • Vaccinate your pets. Use a licensed veterinarian, and make sure you keep up with pets’ booster shots.
  • Leash your dog. Protect dogs and wildlife by keeping your pet on a leash while walking or hiking.
  • Keep cats and other pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard or on leash) when they are outside during the day.
  • Call your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
  • Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine.
  • Bat-proof your home.

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