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Two bats in two Colorado counties test positive for rabies

Two bats in two Colorado counties test positive for rabies
Two bats in two Colorado counties test positive for rabies 00:35

Two people in Englewood were exposed to a bat that tested positive for rabies. Another rabid bat was found near an elementary school in El Paso County, bringing Colorado's 2024 case count up to at least four.

The bat in Englewood was found near Quincy Avenue and Santa Fe Drive, making this the first case of rabies in Arapahoe County so far this year. The two people exposed are getting treatment. The Arapahoe County Public Health Department is hoping anyone in the area who also may have been exposed will seek medical help.

"Bats naturally live in our region and can be found anywhere in and around our county," said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, co-medical director of El Paso County Public Health, in a statement.       

the bats are flying in a cloudy sky
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Earlier this month El Paso County Public Health sent a bat found near Grant Elementary School to a lab for testing and it came back positive on May 17. As of Tuesday, no students or staff at Grant Elementary School had been exposed.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease that can spread to people and pets through bites and scratches from an infected animal. It's almost always fatal in mammals once symptoms appear, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's important to take possible exposure to rabies seriously, even if it doesn't seem like a big deal. For example, if you have a bat in your home, it can be difficult to even know if you've been bitten, as bat bites are tiny, often painless and can happen quickly while you're trying to catch the animal or are asleep," said Melissa Adair, communicable disease epidemiology manager with Arapahoe County Public Health, in a statement.  

County officials insist that people don't touch or feed wildlife and vaccinate pets and livestock. 

Last year there were 55 cases of rabies in Colorado, and 47 of these were in bats, from data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Skunks are also a main carrier in our state. A change in behavior is a telltale sign an animal is infected. For example, bats may lie paralyzed on the ground unable to fly. If you find your pet unattended near a skunk or bat, assume they are at risk of rabies.

Several state health departments warn that summer is the peak season for rabies, as warm weather and outdoor activities increase the chance of encounters with wild animals.  

If you believe you have been exposed to rabies, contact your local health department immediately.  

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