GOLDEN, Colo. – The state of Colorado recently recorded its first domestic case of death by rabies, creating concern for pet and livestock owners.
An alpaca in Douglas County died of the disease in mid-March, according to Dr. Signe Balch, a veterinarian who said “contact with wildlife” was the short answer for what caused the deadly infection.
Balch said the alpaca species that was infected with the virus has no labeled rabies vaccine.
And with springtime now in full swing, animal welfare experts said the number of rabies cases will likely increase.
“It's like a child, you can't prevent everything,” dog owner Nicholas Lane told Denver7. “But the more you can prevent, the better.”
Lane, Mandi Wirtz and their dog Lexi were visiting Golden from Iowa this week and said they came prepared.
“We have her vaccinated,” Wirtz said.
Vaccination is a step Liz Maddy with Foothills Animal Shelter said is even more important, as spring brings mating season for many animals.
“There are seasonal components to things like this,” Maddy said. “Typically, as we get deeper into the spring, we have skunk rabies all around Jefferson county.”
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), more than 40 skunks have already tested positive for the disease.
While Colorado offers plenty of opportunities to bring our pets out into the wild, Maddy warned “we run the risk of interaction with wildlife that we would prefer to avoid.”
Without proper vaccination, she said one bite from a rabid animal is fatal to pets.
Even with the vaccination, pet and livestock owners should still avoid creatures that are acting “zombie-like,” as many animal welfare experts put it.
They also want owners to make sure they aren't feeding wild animals and that any food that might attract wildlife be removed from around their homes.