Rabies is on the rise in Colorado for 2018!!!!
As of April 5th, 2018, CDPHE reports 114 skunks and one alpaca from Colorado have tested positive for rabies. For statewide data visit the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment rabies data website. According to information followed in the link above, so far in 2018, 115 animals total from Colorado have tested positive for rabies. Of those, 32 rabid animals were known or strongly suspected of exposing 84 domestic pets, 55 livestock animals, and 12 people! These numbers are rising weekly! Understandably, this causes concern from a public health standpoint since rabies is an incurable disease and warrants education from veterinarians to clients about the disease, vaccination protocols, and drives the need to ensure all domestic animals are currently vaccinated and what repercussions are for unvaccinated animals and those with expired vaccines. This link will take you to a Map of positive rabies cases relevant to Larimer County specifically. https://www.larimer.org/health/communicable-disease/rabies/map-positive-rabies-animals#/map/2018?id=1155 .
While skunks are the most common wildlife animal to carry rabies, the skunk rabies variant has spilled over to raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and mountain lions. Therefore, residents should be aware of inherent risks of exposure to other wildlife species exhibiting abnormal behavior.
Rabies or suspicion of rabies is reportable in Colorado. There is no test to see if rabies is present while the animal is alive, so any suspicion that an animal or person has been exposed must be taken very seriously. Veterinarians are required to call the State Veterinarian’s Office for any circumstance where an animal might have been exposed. This is important when considering the vaccination status of our patients and what consequences there may be for those pets not in compliance with Colorado state law.
To review vaccination protocols, puppies, kittens, adult dogs and cats with no previous history of rabies vaccination can be vaccinated as early as 12 weeks of age, most getting vaccinated at 16 weeks of age to ensure an appropriate immune response was mounted. It is then boostered a year later. At that point the vaccine can be protective for a year to three years depending on the vaccine used which may vary amongst veterinarians. Any dog or cat with an unknown vaccine status or lack of proof of vaccine, that is exposed to a potentially rabid animal or bites a person could legally be quarantined for up to 6 months at an approved facility at the owner’s expense or euthanized depending on circumstance. Animals overdue for a rabies vaccine may just be instructed to do a home quarantine and have the vaccine boostered ASAP. Rabies antibody titers are NOT accepted as proof that domestic animals are protected from rabies and does not represent a legal index of immunity in lieu of revaccination. Proof of vaccination must be available to avoid issues.
Many local public health departments have their own websites dedicated to dissemination of rabies information to the public. Some examples include:
- Boulder County Public Health – Animals Positive for Rabies
- El Paso County Public Health – Rabies Alerts
- Larimer County Department of Health and Environment – Rabies Positive Tests
- Northeast Colorado Health Department – Rabies and Animal Bites
- Tri-County Health Department – Animal Bites and Rabies
- Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment – Rabies Map
We at Mulnix Animal Clinic strive to provide updated information for our clients on important issues that may seriously impact their animal’s health. We believe in a strong commitment to our community and protecting our patients as best as we can from preventable diseases that have devastating consequences. Please call us for an appointment if your pet needs an updated rabies vaccine or if you have any questions!!!! You always have access to your pet’s health information via our smart phone app Pet Desk or you can call our office to find out what vaccines your pet may need to catch up on. We are taking this very seriously and will continue to monitor things closely. We will keep you informed through our website and facebook. If you have been in contact with a suspected rabid animal, contact your physician immediately!