A La Plata County resident is undergoing rabies vaccinations due to a bat bite the afternoon of Aug. 5 at the Cundis Park (BMX track) by the Animas River, according to a press release from the San Juan Basin Health Department. Individuals who were at that park on that day and may have had direct contact with a bat are asked to call San Juan Basin Health at 335-2028. While the bat was not available for testing, the bat’s behavior for that time of day is very unusual and regional epidemiologists deemed it highly likely that the bat was rabid. Rabies has a typical incubation period of one to three months. If you have been exposed, rabies vaccinations would be strongly recommended. Signs have been posted at the park.
Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. It is fatal if untreated. People get rabies from the bite of a rabies-infected animal. Any wild mammal, such as raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat can have rabies and transmit it to people through a bite. Bats are by far the most common carriers of rabies in this area. So far this year three bats have tested positive for rabies in our area.
If you think you have been exposed, it’s recommended that you safely capture the suspect bat or animal for testing. San Juan Basin Health usually gets results back within 24 hours and the test is $65 – far less costly than a series of rabies vaccinations. Heavy gloves are recommended. Further instructions are available at: sjbhd.org/rabies. If the suspect animal is not available for testing, the epidemiologist will determine if the preventative rabies vaccination series is prudent. Over the last two years, the health department recommended to 11 individuals that they get the preventative rabies vaccine.
Individuals are urged to keep their pets and livestock current for rabies vaccination to protect them and your family. Please contact your veterinarian for more information.
Learn more: To learn more about rabies and precautions and what to teach your children, visit www.cdc.gov/rabies.