HAE

What is rabies?
Rabies is an infectious disease caused by a virus that can affect humans and other animals.  It attacks the brain and nervous system and is almost always fatal. Rabies is preventable if vaccines are administered early but the disease is not treatable once symptoms appear.

What animals commonly transmit rabies in Larimer county?
The virus is most commonly found in skunks and bats in Larimer County, but can also be found in foxes, raccoons and coyotes. Any mammal can get rabies.

How is rabies transmitted?
The virus is transmitted by the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite or scratch.  Pets and livestock, especially outdoor animals, can easily come in contact with rabid animals. If your pets are unvaccinated, and they come in contact with a rabid animal, they can contract rabies and spread it to humans and animals.

What happens if my pet is exposed to a potentially rabid animal?
All animal encounters should be reported to animal control or to the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.  The health department can help evaluate the risk of the exposure and make recommendations for you or your pet. Unvaccinated pets that come in contact with a potentially rabid animal might be required to go through an extensive quarantine process that can be costly, or they might have to be euthanized. Vaccination is the best way to protect your pets from rabies.  

What are the symptoms of rabies in animals?

  • Normally nocturnal animals such as skunks and bats active during the day
  • Animals stumbling, weak, or paralyzed
  • Unusually aggressive or tame behavior while approaching humans or pets

When to call your healthcare provider
Please consult your healthcare provider or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment

  • If you have had contact with a bat, skunk or other wild animal
  • If you have had contact with feral cats or stray animals
  • If you found a bat in an area where you were sleeping
  • If you are unsure if contact with a bat may have occurred, such as with a child or adult who may not be able to communicate if they had contact

What are the symptoms of rabies in humans?
Once symptoms appear, rabies is almost always fatal.  Symptoms include tingling or twitching sensation around the animal bite, fever, headache, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea and fatigue.  As the infection progresses, irritability, excessive movements or agitation, seizures, inability to swallow and increased salivation can occur.

How long does it take to get rabies?
It generally takes 20-60 days to develop symptoms of rabies but has been known to be longer than 6 months.

What can I do to prevent rabies?

  • VACCINATE YOUR ANIMALS
  • Don’t keep wild animals as pets
  • Avoid touching wild or feral animals
  • Avoid animals showing unusual behavior
  • Prevent contact between pets and wildlife. Obey leash laws.
  • Feed your pets indoors and don’t leave pet food outside
  • Put trash in secure bins and animal proof if needed
  • Prevent wildlife from getting into your house

What should I do if I am bitten by an animal?
If the animal bit you in an enclosed area, try and contain the animal. Do not release the animal. If it is caught, it can be tested for rabies. A negative test can mean less health care costs for you after an exposure. Seek medical care for all animal bites and wounds.

Why does public health investigate potential contact with rabid animals?
Public health can coordinate testing of animals for rabies and help determine if preventive treatment is needed for humans and pets. Public health can also discuss possible exposures and determine risk when an animal is not available for testing. The purpose of these measures is to protect humans and animals from getting rabies.

For additional information please contact your primary health care provider or the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment at 970-498-6700 or www.larimer.org/rabies.