With a little knowledge, caution and respect for the wild in wildlife, bats and people can coexist in Colorado. Bats are fascinating wildlife neighbors and important components of the native ecosystems of wild Colorado. However, bats can transmit rabies to people, and unfortunately, the incapacitated bats that come in contact with people are those most likely to have the disease. (Colorado Division of Wildlife)
Public health importance of rabies
Over the last 100 years, rabies in the United States has changed dramatically. More than 90% of all animal cases reported annually to CDC now occur in wildlife, whereas before 1960 the majority were in domestic animals. The principal rabies hosts today are wild carnivores and bats. The number of rabies-related human deaths in the United States has declined from more than 100 annually at the turn of the century to one to two per year in the1990's despite major outbreaks of animal rabies in several geographic areas. Modern day prophylaxis has proven nearly 100% successful; most human fatalities associated with rabies now occur in people who fail to seek medical assistance, usually because they do not recognize a risk in the animal contact leading to infection.
Avoiding contact with bats is the best prevention against rabies along with getting your pets and farm animals vaccinated. Do not approach or pick-up wildlife. If you see an animal that appears to be sick, please call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 970-247-0855. Read more about how to prevent trouble. If you do however encounter a bat, follow these guidelines.
If you are bitten by an animal or suspect exposure, please contact your medical provider or San Juan Basin Health at 970-335-2028 to determine the potential for rabies exposure, the need for treatment, and to decide whether or not to test the animal for rabies.
Bats and Rabies - Preventing Trouble from the Colorado Division of Wildlife