Thursday, June 24, 2010


Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of a rabies infected animal (rabid animal). Any wild mammal, such as raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat can have rabies and transmit it to people through a bite. Bats are the most common carriers of rabies in Colorado and Jefferson County, however there has been an increase in skunks also reporting positive.

Rabies: Rabies can only be confirmed in a laboratory. Because of the deadly nature of rabies, JCPH strongly encourages citizens not to allow their pets to roam free and to keep their pet cats, dogs and ferrets current on their rabies vaccinations. Do not handle wild animals and keep them from entering your home by using screens or closing windows, doors and other openings. If you find a dead animal, use a shovel to place bat in plastic bag, tie knot in bag and dispose of bag in outdoor trash container.

Bites and Exposures: If bitten by a bat, skunk, dog, cat, raccoon or other mammal, wash the affected area thoroughly and seek medical advice immediately. Contact local animal control agency and notify them of location of animal so that the animal can undergo appropriate testing or quarantine.

For more information on Rabies and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Monday, June 14, 2010

West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE)

These diseases are carried by mosquitoes and passed to humans through a mosquito bite.
Not all mosquitoes carry disease, the mosquitoes of greatest concern in Jefferson County are Culex (medium-sized mosquitoes) that feed primarily around dawn and dusk. These mosquitoes are monitored by JCPH’s integrated mosquito control program.

Symptoms: develop between 3 & 14 days after being bitten.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness -lasting 2-7 days.
Most people who are infected with mosquito-borne viruses
do not become ill or have any symptoms.

In some cases:
The virus can cause a serious brain infection such as aseptic meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain and lining of the brain/spinal cord). These infections begin with:
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache
  • May progress to stiff neck
  • Disorientation
  • Tremors
  • Coma

Severe infections can result in permanent impairment or death.

There is no specific treatment for infection
these viruses except supportive care.


  • Mosquito proof your home and backyard.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and insect repellent.
  • Use insect repellent even in your own back yard.
  • Eliminate any standing water weekly. Culex mosquitoes breed in almost any source of standing water, including old tires, flowerpots, tree holes, or any puddle. Mosquitoes lay up to 250 eggs at a time, which hatch in as few as 2-3 days.

For more information on West Nile Virus and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a rare disease caused by a bacterium, Rickettsia, and transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick. Ticks that carry the spotted fever organisms can infect humans at any time during the year.

Symptoms: "Flu-like"

Incubation Period - 3 to 14 days
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash - often appearing a few days later. Rash spreads rapidly over the entire body, may be seen on the palms and soles of the feet.

The illness can be treated with antibiotics, but can be fatal if treatment is delayed.

Prevention: When going into the mountains-

  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Tuck trousers into the tops of socks and shirttails into trousers
  • Apply a small amount of an insect repellent containing DEET on clothing
  • Frequent "tick checks" should be performed every two to three hours especially in key areas: back, scalp and behind the ears.

Once embedded in the skin, a tick can be removed by using a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick and, gently, but firmly, pull backwards without crushing the tick or leaving the mouthparts in the skin. Avoid crushing tick between fingers as infection can occur if the bacteria enter the skin. Washing hands and applying an antiseptic to the bite after removal is advised. Ticks should always be removed carefully and as soon as possible to prevent disease transmission.

A tick must be attached for several hours for the disease to be spread.

For more information on Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Colorado Tick Fever

Colorado Tick Fever is an illness caused by a virus carried by small mammals, such as ground squirrels, porcupines, chipmunks, and ticks. The virus can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Rocky Mountain wood tick. Colorado Tick Fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Colorado, it is believed , however, that most cases go unrecognized.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Lethargy

Symptoms usually last 4-5 days, followed by an apparent recovery, then a relapse with symptoms for 2-3 more days. Complete recovery can take 2 or 3 weeks.

The disease is not life threatening and infection results in life-long immunity.

For more information on Colorado Tick Fever and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus (hantavirus). which is carried by wild rodents, particularly deer mice. It is present in their droppings (feces), urine and saliva and when dried droppings or urine are stirred up in dust it can be breathed in by people. People then may get hantavirus when they breathe in the contaminated dust. Hantavirus has not been shown to infect other kinds of animals, such as dogs, cats, or farm animals.

The disease is not contagious and does not spread from human to human.

Incubation Period - Varies, ranges from 1 to 6 weeks.

First symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Severe abdominal, joint and lower back pain

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • A cough and shortness of breath usually develops 1 to 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

  • Difficulty in breathing due to fluid build-up in the lungs. This can quickly progress to respiratory failure.


  1. Control the presence of rodents in and around the home by sealing up rodent entry holes or gaps; trapping mice and rats.

  2. Be careful not to create food sources for the rodents, i.e. putting away pet food.

  3. Do not sweep or vacuum when cleaning vacated sheds, cabins or other enclosed areas, this can stir up dust. Use gloves to wet contaminated areas with a bleach solution or household disinfectant. Once wet, the area can be mopped or sponged.
  4. Contaminated gloves should be disinfected before taking them off. Wash hands with soap & warm water.

For more information on Hantavirus and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at