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Health Department

Animal Bites and Rabies

Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that results in severe inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. Rabies is transmitted in saliva through animal bites and scratches. All mammals, including humans, are susceptible to rabies. Immediate medical treatment is required if a person or domestic animal is exposed to rabies. If untreated, rabies infections are almost always fatal. With appropriate treatment, rabies infections are 100% preventable.

Skunks and bats are the most significant sources of rabies in Colorado, but other wild animals including raccoons and foxes can also be infected. Rabid animals usually show abnormal behavior, such as aggression, confusion, or lack of fear of people. Domestic animals including dogs, cats, horses, and livestock can become infected if they have contact with a rabid animal.

Click here for more information on Rabies.

Protecting your family

If you or a family member has any contact with an animal that could have rabies, contact the Douglas County Health Department immediately at 720-643-2400 or report the exposure online.

If you were bit or scratched by an animal who may have rabies, wash any wounds immediately with soap and water, and speak with a health care provider.

Depending on the nature of the exposure and the availability of the animal for testing, you may need treatment to prevent rabies or other infections.

Take steps to avoid exposure to rabies, including:

  • Do not touch, feed, or interact with wild animals. Teach children to leave wild animals alone. Wildlife may carry the rabies virus. By getting close to them, you risk becoming infected through bites and scratches. Animals willing to be touched are more likely to be unhealthy. If you are concerned about an orphaned wild animal, leave it alone and contact Colorado Parks and Wildlife for guidance.
  • Vaccinate your pets (dogs and cats) to protect them from the rabies virus. If your pets are vaccinated, make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
  • Keep pets indoors to limit their contact with wild animals. Maintain control of pets when they are outdoors. Keep pet food indoors.
  • Prevent entry by wildlife into your home. Seal cracks and holes, and screen chimneys and vents. Remove debris around your home that could provide nesting areas for wildlife.

Keeping your pets and animals safe

To prevent rabies in your pets and animals, take your animals to their veterinarian regularly and stay up-to-date with vaccines. Keep pets indoors, and supervise them when outdoors. Contact animal control to request removal of stray animals from your neighborhood.

Health care providers

Before beginning Rabies Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), contact a Douglas County Communicable Disease Epidemiologist at 720-643-2400.

Who to contact

  • If your dog, cat, horse, or livestock animal has been in contact with an animal that could have rabies, seek veterinary attention and report the incident to Douglas County Health Department through the online form or by phone at 720-643-2400.
  • If you are having other problems with wildlife, call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-297-1192.
  • If you are having other problems with stray dogs or cats, call your local animal control agency. They are on-call 24 hours a day.