HEALTH ALERT: Bat found at Rainbow Falls tested positive for rabies
Officials in El Paso County sent out a health alert on Thursday for a bat that tested positive for rabies.
The bat, found at the Rainbow Falls Historic Site near Manitou Springs, was the 12th animal to test positive for rabies in El Paso County in 2019. The county sent out a notice asking anyone who may have come in contact with, or had their pets come in contact with the bat to contact the Public Health Communicable Disease Division at (719) 578-3220.
“We want to make sure that everyone remains safe around wildlife,” said El Paso County Public Health Communicable Disease program manager Kimberly Pattison in a release. “People should stay away from animals that are acting abnormally, like a bat that is outside during daytime hours or unable to fly. Strange behaviors are indicators that the animal might be sick. The best practice is to always keep yourself and your pets at a safe distance from wildlife.”
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, causing brain swelling and damage, and is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear. Rabies spreads primarily through the bite of rabid animals, via infected saliva. Rabies can also be spread when saliva from an infected animal gets into open wounds, cuts or enters through membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.
-Vaccinate your pets against rabies by using a licensed veterinarian. Rabies shots must 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 such as skunks and foxes adapt to residential environments if food is available – please do not leave pet food outdoors.
-If people or pets are bitten or scratched by an aggressive wild or unknown animal, call your doctor and report to El Paso County Public Health
Bat bites can be difficult to detect, according to the county. If you find a bat in your house and are unsure how long it has been there, do not release the bat. Contact Public Health at 719-578-3220.
If you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat, contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for options at (719) 473-1741.