Person bitten by rabid bat

One Mesa County resident is being treated for rabies after being bitten by one of two rabid bats recently found in Mesa County, officials said.

The discovery of rabies prompted authorities to warn people not to handle wildlife that is acting in an abnormal fashion and to make sure their pets’ vaccinations are up to date.

One bat was found at a private residence in the southeast area of Grand Junction, and the second was at a private residence in Collbran, the Mesa County Health Department said.

One of the bats was found Sunday and the other in the early part of last week, Health Department spokeswoman Kristy Emerson said.

Rabies, a virus, affects the nervous system of mammals, and there is no treatment once the symptoms of the disease appear.

Health officials urge treatment before symptoms appear: a series of four vaccinations in the arm over a series of weeks, Emerson said.

The last human case of rabies in Colorado was reported in 1931.

The bats are the 17th and 18th bats to test positive for rabies in Mesa County from 1999 until now. They were tested at a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lab in Denver.

The testing was required because of human contact with the bats, Emerson said. The second bat was handled by a person.

Mesa County reported a rabies-positive skunk in 2007.

Rabies is relatively common in bats, and when it has been detected in other animals over the past 20 years it often has been related to contact with bats.

Rabies symptoms include abnormal behavior such as nocturnal species being active in the day or animals abnormally approaching humans or other animals, the Health Department said. A healthy animal usually will remain well-hidden and avoid human contact, the department said.

Other signs of rabies include the animal having difficulty walking or other movements. Some animals with rabies will be very aggressive, while others may show a lack of movement and activity. Animals suspected to be rabid should be avoided and reported to Mesa County Animal Services at 242-4646 or the Health Department at 254-4120.


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