Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Tularemia is a bacterial disease associated with various animal species, especially rodents, rabbits, hares and beavers. People can get tularemia from many different sources: through the bite of an infected insect (usually a tick or deerfly), handling infected animal carcasses, consuming contaminated food or water, or by inhaling the bacteria. This disease can occur throughout the year; the peak times correspond with tick season (in spring and summer) and with the rabbit hunting season in early winter.

Tularemia is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms: Usually 3-5 days after exposure

  • Sudden high fever

  • Headaches

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • A sore or lesion at the site of infection.

  • If the bacteria are ingested, a person may have a sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

If any of these symptoms are noted after handling dead animals or swallowing untreated drinking water (as you find in a creek), contact your physician.

Tularemia is treatable with appropriate antibiotics.


  • Do not handle sick or dead animals.

  • Instruct children to leave wildlife alone.

  • Wear rubber gloves when skinning or handling animals, especially rabbits.

  • Thoroughly cook meat from wild game.

  • Use protective clothing and insect repellents.

  • Conduct frequent "tick checks".

  • Avoid untreated drinking water.

  • Use DEET or other tick repellant during the Colorado tick season. Ticks emerge in the mountains of Colorado in late March and are present throughout the summer with the peak season occurring in late May through early June.

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

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bubonic Plague

Bubonic Plague is a disease caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis and can be transmitted to humans by infected fleas or direct contact with infected animals. Plague is frequently detected in squirrels, prairie dogs, wood rats and chipmunks.

Incubation Period - Usually 2-6 days.

Typical symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of fever and chills

  • Severe headache

  • Muscle aches

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • A general feeling of illness.

  • Possible Lymph node pain and swelling

Treatment with antibiotics is effective during the early stages of disease.

Restrict dog and cat contact with squirrels, rodents, rabbits, prairie dogs, and other small mammals. Maintain good flea control - use flea control products recommended by a veterinarian. Avoid contact with any species of wild rodents, especially sick or dead rodents.
If a suspicious dead animal is found, do not directly handle the animal. Use gloves and place in a plastic bag. If these reasonable precautions are taken, the probability of contracting plague is extremely low.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Recently, skunk rabies has reemerged as a concern in Colorado and Jefferson County. Skunks may contract their own strain of rabies or serve as a “spillover” species for the raccoon variant. It's important to take proper precautions by calling your local animal control officer if you observe a sick, disoriented skunk.

Bats are the primary reservoirs of rabies in Colorado. Instances of rabies among other wild and domestic animals are rare. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, (CDPHE) the first reported cases of rabies occurred in Colorado in the following animals: dog (2003 - imported from Texas), cat (1985), raccoon (1963), fox (2005), skunk (2008 - see skunk surveillance protocol), and human (1931).