EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — El Paso County Public Health is looking for the person who brought a baby raccoon into a Petco store on Sunday to discuss the health of the animal.
It's unclear what happened exactly, but Public Health is working with the store to obtain more details about the situation.
The store is located at 1820 West Uintah St. near the intersection of 19th and Uintah streets.
The raccoon has not been located and Public Health said it's unknown whether the animal has rabies. However, Public Health is encouraging anyone who either had contact with the raccoon or may have been at the store between 10-11 a.m. on Sunday to reach out to Public Health immediately at 719-578-3220.
Public Health said a preventive vaccination is available for people known or suspected to have been in contact with a rabid animal. It is important for people bitten or scratched by an unfamiliar animal to contact their doctor and Public Health immediately.
“Rabies is much more common in the summer months,” said Dr. Robin Johnson, El Paso County Public Health medical director. “It’s critical to remember not to touch, feed or take care of wildlife, as they have the potential to carry rabies.”
Rabies is a virus that infects wild mammals, especially bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Rabies affects the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, causing brain swelling and damage, and is nearly always fatal once symptoms appear. Rabies spreads primarily through the bite of rabid animals, via infected saliva. Rabies can also be spread when saliva from an infected animal gets into open wounds, cuts or enters through membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.
Take these precautions to prevent rabies:
- Vaccinate your pets against rabies by using a licensed veterinarian. Rabies shots must be boosted, so check your pet’s records or talk to your veterinarian.
- When walking or hiking with your dog, protect them and wildlife by keeping your dog on a leash.
- Keep cats and other pets inside at night to reduce the risk of exposure to other domestic animals and wildlife. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard, or on leash) during the day while outside.
- Contact your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
- Do not touch or feed wild animals. Wild animals such as skunks and foxes adapt to residential environments if food is available – please do not leave pet food outdoors.
- If people or pets are bitten or scratched by an aggressive wild or unknown animal, call your doctor and report to El Paso County Public Health’s bite report portal (or your local county health department).
- Bat bites can be difficult to detect. If you find a bat in your house and are unsure how long it has been there, do not release the bat. Contact Public Health at 719-578-3220 (or your local county health department).
- If you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat, contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for options at 719-473-1741 (or your local Humane Society)
How to recognize sick wildlife:
- Healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans.
- Sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.
- Wildlife suffering from rabies will often act aggressively and violently approach people or pets.
- However, sometimes rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. If they are hiding, leave them alone. Rabid wildlife might also stumble or have trouble walking.
Reports of Confirmed Rabies in El Paso County (2010-2019)
- 2019: 16 (5 bat, 9 skunks, 1 fox & 1 dog)
- 2018: 67 (6 bats, 60 skunks, 1 raccoon)
- 2017: 28 (7 bats, 21 skunks)
- 2016: 3 (bats)
- 2015: 6 (5 bats, 1 cat)
- 2014: 10 (bats)
- 2013: 8 (4 bats, 2 foxes, 2 skunks)
- 2012: 3 (bats)
- 2011: 15 (5 bats, 1 fox, 9 skunks)
- 2010: 17 (8 bats, 4 foxes, 5 skunks)
>> For more information, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org
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