Rabies is a viral disease that affects warm-blooded mammals. The rabies virus affects the nervous system and causes swelling of the brain, eventually resulting in death. Once symptoms appear, the disease is nearly always fatal. Historically, bats have been the main source of rabies exposures, however, rabid skunks have now been found in Larimer County and they are expected to continue to pose a rabies risk year-round. Bats and skunks present the biggest concern for rabies, but any warm blooded mammal can get rabies. In Larimer County, this includes raccoons, foxes, cats, and even bison. Most bats and skunks do not carry rabies and pose little health risk if there is no direct contact with pets or people. 

Rabies is preventable. Avoid contact with wild animals and keep pets and animals up to date on rabies vaccines. There is no treatment once an animal or human shows symptoms. Rabies is 100% preventable but once a human or animal shows symptoms, it is almost 100% fatal. 

Exposure to rabies should be treated preventatively in humans as soon as possible within 7 days of exposure. Pets and other domestic animals can be protected from getting this disease through vaccination, but there is no effective post-exposure treatment for unvaccinated animals. 

Additional Resources


Call the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment if you have other questions about exposure to animals with rabies at (970) 498-6775.