FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– A raccoon found in southeast Fort Collins has tested positive for rabies.
This is the first positive rabies raccoon ever reported in Larimer County and the first in a Front Range county since 1963. The only other rabid raccoon found since then has been in Cheyenne County in 2008.
The raccoon entered an enclosed yard near Trilby and Lemay in southeast Fort Collins and was killed by several dogs, whose owner submitted the raccoon for testing. The dogs were current on their rabies vaccinations and were given rabies boosters and remain under home observation for 45 days.
The number of cases of rabies in wildlife continues to rise in Larimer County since it was first detected in skunks in early May. As of July 19, Larimer County has confirmed 21 skunks, six bats, one bison, and one raccoon as having rabies. These numbers reflect only animals that have been trapped and tested for rabies, and the actual number of animals in the county with rabies is certainly higher.
Rabies that is transmitted by wildlife that moves on the ground rather than in the air (like bats) is called “terrestrial rabies.” The risk of rabies exposure to wildlife, livestock, and pets is greater from terrestrial animals like skunks, foxes, and raccoons, compared to exposure to bats.
Humans can be exposed to rabies directly through an animal bite or though unvaccinated pets or livestock that have been infected by a wild animal with rabies. Post-exposure treatment is available to humans but should be given soon after exposure for it to be effective.
Unvaccinated dogs and cats that come into contact with a rabid animal will either need to be euthanized, or vaccinated and quarantined at a veterinary facility for 90 days, followed by another 90 days of home quarantine. This can be very expensive. Pets who are behind in their vaccinations must be vaccinated and quarantined at home for 90 days. Fully vaccinated pets need a booster and 45 days of observation at home.
To lower your or your pets’ exposure to rabies, the Health Department recommends the following:
• Vaccinate pets as recommended by your veterinarian; make sure they are up-to-date on their shots. Animals too young to be vaccinated should be kept indoors. Talk to your large animal vet about vaccinating horses and livestock.
• Leash your pets when they accompany you on a walk in your neighborhood or in parks, the foothills, or open spaces. Pets who roam freely have an increased chance of an encounter with a wild animal and could be exposed to rabies without your knowledge.
• Feed your pets indoors, and bring your pets inside at night. Do not leave pet food outdoors or leave livestock feed containers open in sheds or barns.
• Do not feed, touch or handle wild animals and be cautious of stray dogs and cats
• Teach children not to touch either live or dead wildlife (including bats) and to tell you when they have been bitten or scratched by a pet.
• Call the Larimer Humane Emergency Animal Control line at 970-226-3647, Ext. 7, if you see a potentially rabid animal or have a pet that may have been exposed. Also contact your veterinarian without delay if you suspect direct contact between your pet or livestock and a potentially rabid animal.
• Call your doctor or visit an emergency room immediately if you are bitten or scratched by an animal that seems sick or threatening.