The Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office is alerting residents that a bat in Jefferson County tested positive for rabies on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. Cases of rabies have also been confirmed in bats, skunks, raccoons, and other wildlife across Colorado’s Front Range and Foothills Region.

Rabies is a virus that infects wildlife, causing fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, and coyotes are the main hosts for rabies in the United States.

According to Jeffco Public Health, the first bat to test positive for rabies in Jefferson County this year was located in a high-traffic area of Belmar near the 700 block of South Reed Street in Lakewood, Colorado.

There have been several reports of animals with rabies in Jefferson County since 2016. According to the tweet below from Jeffco Public Health, 325 animals in Colorado tested positive for rabies in 2018. Of those 325 confirmed cases, 8 bats and 18 skunks tested positive for rabies in Jefferson County.

Despite possible transmission of rabies, bats also play a key role in controlling insect populations. According to Bat Conservation International, a single bat can eat as many as 1,200 insects in an hour. Bats also eat mosquitoes, which carry life-threatening diseases such as West Nile Virus.

To limit your risk of exposure, avoid feeding, petting, or taking in any wild animals including cats and dogs. Keep pets leashed and vaccinations current.

Bats can bite without leaving a discernible mark or wound. If you have been bitten by a bat or wild animal or suspect it is possible, contact a health professional immediately for an evaluation of possible rabies exposure. Symptoms of rabies include fever, nausea, confusion, agitation, and even death.

For more information on bats and rabies from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, click here.

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