The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment Recognizes World Rabies Day

Don’t forget to vaccinate your pet!

DENVER— September 28 is World Rabies Day, and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) reminds Denver residents about the importance of rabies safety and would like to raise awareness about the multiple ways it impacts public health.

Rabies is a virus spread to people from the saliva or brain tissue of infected animals and, while 100% preventable, it is deadly. Rabies has the highest mortality rate—99.9%—of any disease on earth. Rabies can be passed to people by both infected wildlife and domestic animals.

During the spring, Denver Animal Protection (DAP) officers routinely respond to calls from people who have brought very young undomesticated, or wild, animals into their homes – like baby squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, and skunks – and played with them, presenting a serious rabies risk. As a result of the danger presented by rabies, DAP takes interactions between humans and wildlife extremely seriously. Those who have handled the animals must go to their doctor and may require post-exposure rabies vaccinations if an exposure has been determined. If their pets at home were in contact with the animals, they may need to be quarantined for 45 days or more. Even a seemingly healthy animal could be carrying rabies and not exhibit any symptoms. If you encounter an undomesticated animal, do not approach, or touch them, and keep a safe distance.

There are simple ways to help prevent rabies in your household. It’s important to monitor your pets while they are outside so you are aware of any contact with wild or stray animals. Children are at higher risk of animal bites. Monitor your children when they play outside and educate them about staying away from strange animals. Prevent undomesticated animals from entering your house or getting into your trash. If you see sick or injured wildlife, leave the animal alone and contact DAP at 720-913-2080 or 311. DAP works closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and wildlife rehab centers in the state.

Keeping your pets’ (like cats, dogs, and ferrets) rabies vaccinations up to date will protect them and your family by lowering your rabies exposure risk. Denver Animal Shelter (DAS) offers a low-cost vaccination clinic every Saturday and Sunday, from 9-11 a.m. at 1241 W. Bayaud Ave. The clinic is first-come first-served, and it often reaches capacity as soon as it opens, so arrive early. DAS also partners with neighborhood organizations to offer additional vaccination clinics in our community in October: 

  • Sunday, Oct. 15, from 9 a.m-12 p.m.: RezDawg Rescue at the Montbello Clinic at Amesse Elementary, 5440 Scranton St. This is only for residents of northeast Denver. This is a drive-thru clinic. Keep pets inside your vehicle.
  • Saturday, Oct. 21, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.: Una Mano, Una Esperanza at the Westwood Community Center, 1000 S. Lowell Blvd. This is only for residents of west and southwest Denver.

After your pet is vaccinated, remember to purchase a pet license – this is a requirement by law in Denver. The sharp-looking pet license tag for your pet’s collar has a scannable QR code that links to all your pet’s most important information (like medical and vaccine records, owner contact information, microchip, dietary needs, and much more). Purchase a pet license online at PetData.com or in person at DAS. You will need your pet’s rabies vaccine information when applying for a license.

Not only does DAP play an integral part of managing rabies in Denver, DDPHE’s Epidemiology and Disease Intervention team investigates communicable diseases within the community to reduce transmission of illness and provides resources to partners on disease control and mitigation, including those residents exposed to the rabies virus.

Learn more about outbreak investigation for diseases such as rabies at the Epidemiology and Disease Intervention webpage and more about pet vaccinations at the DAS webpage.

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