Rabid horse discovered in El Paso County
COLORADO SPRINGS – A rabid horse has been put down in El Paso County, underscoring the critical importance of vaccinating pets and livestock and avoiding wild animals, according to the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment.
Kandi Buckland, county public health director, said rabies infection in horses is rare.
“We anticipate that the infection was caused by skunk rabies, which greatly concerns us because it would indicate that rabies is not only spreading in the county, but also crossing animal species and increasing the risk to people,” she said.
In addition to the horse, El Paso County has recorded six confirmed cases of rabies in skunks this year, part of a statewide spread of rabies. Prior to this summer, the last time a rabid skunk was reported in El Paso County was 1970.
In Weld County, there has been one positive rabies test in a bat reported in Greeley this year, according to Gay Morrison, spokeswoman for the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment. There were two cases of rabies in bats a year ago in Greeley, she added.
The El Paso horse, which was euthanized Friday, had laboratory tests to confirm it had rabies. Public health experts believe that the horse was exposed to a skunk on its home property in Black Forest area. Colorado has not recorded a horse with rabies in at least 25 years, according to officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Vaccination can successfully protect pets and livestock from rabies infection should an exposure occur. Under-vaccinated pets are at significant risk for acquiring rabies from skunks, which then may bring the risk for rabies into the home, according to health department officials.
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