Two Colorado horses have tested positive for rabies on separate operations in Weld County.
So far this year, three Colorado horses have been put down due to the disease, notes the Colorado Department of Agriculture's state veterinarian, Keith Roehr.
CDA is asking livestock and pet owners to probe the need for vaccinations with their veterinarians, and monitor all animals for potential behavioral changes.
"Animal owners need to primarily look for any dramatic nervous system changes such as muscle tremors, weakness, lameness, stumbling or paralysis," advises Roehr. These are hallmark signs that the animal may be stricken with rabies, he explains.
Rural landowners are also advised to watch out for unusual behavior in wild mammals which suddenly show no fear for people and pets. Nocturnal animals that are active in daylight may also be a sign of problems, as are bats on the ground, in swimming pools or which have been caught by pets.
Rapid carnivores, such as skunks, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, dogs and cats may become aggressive and may try to attack people, pets and livestock.
Livestock owners are encouraged to discuss potential vaccination with veterinarians on animals that may have been exposed to wildlife that carry and could transmit rabies virus to dogs, cats, horses, small ruminants, llamas, alpacas, and petting zoo stock.
Rabies is a viral disease infecting the brain and central nervous systems of stricken animals. The clinical appearance of rabies falls into two categories: aggressive and dumb.
Aggressive symptoms include combativeness and violent behavior and sensitivity to touch and other types of stimulation. The dumb form is seen when animals become lethargic, weak in one or more limbs, and unable to raise its head or make sounds because its throat and neck muscles are paralyzed.
Rabies can be passed to humans from animals, and spread via saliva in open wounds or through membranes such as eyes, nose and mouth.