What is rabies?
Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that makes the brain swell. It can be prevented through proper vaccination, however, once symptoms appear it is almost always fatal.
How do people and animals get rabies?
Rabies virus is spread in saliva from the bite of an animal that is sick with rabies. It can also spread if the saliva of an infected animal gets into a cut, scratch or other open wound.
What animals have rabies?
- Rabies is most often found in bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes, but other wild animals can also be infected.
- All mammals such as dogs, cats, horses and livestock can get sick with rabies, as well as humans.
- Small mammals like squirrels, rats, mice and rabbits almost never have rabies. Reptiles and birds cannot get sick with rabies.
What to do if you have contact with a potentially rabid animal?
If you or a family member have been in contact with an animal that could have rabies, seek medical attention immediately and contact your local health department. If you live in Adams, Arapahoe or Douglas Counties, call Tri-County Health Department at 303.220.9200.
If you or someone else is bitten by an animal?
- Immediately clean the wound with soap and water.
- See medical attention.
- Contact Tri-County Health Department at 303.220.9200 to determine if you should receive treatment to prevent rabies.
If your own animal has contact with a potentially rabid animal:
If your dog, cat, horse or livestock animal has been in contact with an animal that could have rabies, seek veterinary attention and contact your local health department: Animal Bite Reporting Form (PDF)
What can you do to prevent rabies?
- Have dogs, cats, horses and livestock vaccinated regularly for rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
- Do not feed, touch or handle wild animals.
- Keep cats indoors and dogs on a leash.
- Spay or neuter your pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in your community.
- Call your local animal control office (anchor to list of AC phone numbers) to remove stray animals from your neighborhood.
- Consider getting a rabies vaccine if you work with wildlife, in veterinary services, or work with rabies in a lab.
Other Helpful Resources
- Call the Colorado Division of Wildlife office at 303.291.7227 if you have issues with wild animals in your neighborhood.
- If you are having other issues with wildlife in your area, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303.297.1192.
- If you are having other problems with stray dogs or cats, then call your local animal control agency.
For more information, please visit Tri-County Health Department.