11:43am

Sun March 24, 2013
Health

In Larimer County, Rabies Cases On The Rise

Six cases of rabies have been reported in Larimer county to date in 2013.
Credit Larimer County

Three skunks and one raccoon have tested positive for rabies in the past week, bringing the total rabies cases this year to six in Larimer County, including five skunks and one raccoon. 

“This has been a busy week for rabies,” said Rich Grossmann, environmental health specialist for the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment.  “The sudden rise in cases reminds us that terrestrial rabies is a problem that won’t go away, so pet and livestock owners need to be vigilant about having their animals vaccinated.”

Rabies Signs and Symptoms in Animals

·  The first phase: aggression, loss of fear, daytime activity by nocturnal species, attraction to noise and human activity, excess vocalization, dilated pupils, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, restlessness, and/or biting at objects and other animals. Animals may or may not drool.

·  The second phase: decreased activity, incoordination, hind limb weakness, acting "dull." Cats may meow excessively. As the disease progresses, the animal may drop its lower jaw, drool, be unable to swallow, become paralyzed and finally die.

·  Not all animals show every sign. Most neurological or behavioral abnormalities could potentially be rabies.

Some animals will show no signs of rabies other than death

Skunk rabies is a type of “terrestrial” rabies, meaning that it is carried by animals that travel on the ground, rather than by bats that fly.  Terrestrial rabies first arrived in Larimer County last spring. Until then, bats had been the main carrier of rabies in Larimer County.

Map of 2012 rabies cases in Larimer County.
Credit Larimer County

Larimer County had 55 total reported cases of rabies last year including:
Total skunks: 40
Total bats: 11
Total bison: 2
Total raccoons: 2

If you see a skunk, raccoon or bat that’s behaving strangely, keep your distance and call the Larimer Humane Society’s animal control number at 226-3647, #7.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife; before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores and bats.