The Casper-Natrona County Health Department says Casper Metro Animal Services has notified it of an increase in the number of positive animal rabies cases this summer, according to a news release.

While rabies is rare and typically numbers are low, Scott Schell with Casper Metro Animal Services has reported three positive tests in bats since June 7. This is a significant increase from past years, according to the Health Department.

In mid-June, Casper veterinarian Dr. Jane Mohr said a client of her Rocky Mountain Animal Hospital brought in a bat he found in his house within city limits that had bitten his unvaccinated six-month-old kitten.

The bat was euthanized and sent to the state veterinarian, which determined the bat had rabies, Mohr said. She criticized Metro Animal Services for apparently violating protocol by not quarantining or euthanizing the kitten. Metro did not return requests for comment about the apparent violation of the Casper Municipal Code dealing with rabies control.

Rabies is a 100 percent fatal, but preventable, neurological disease in mammals, and is transmitted from bats and skunks to other animals, said Mohr, herself a public health veterinarian. The virus usually is transmitted by biting because it is in the saliva of infected animals.

The Casper-Natrona County Health Department urges residents to take these steps to minimize exposure to rabies:

  • Vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets, horses and other selected livestock for rabies and keep vaccinations current.
  • Unusual animal behaviors include but are not limited to bats being active during daylight hours, excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth, and aggressive behaviors.
  • Avoid contact with stray and wild animals.
  • Keep pets under supervision in a yard or on a leash to minimize contact with wild animals.
  • Teach children to never approach unfamiliar dogs, cats or wildlife, even if they appear friendly.
  • Treat animal bites with soap and water and immediately contact a medical professional.
  • People waking to find a bat in their room or a child’s room immediately should contact a medical professional. Bats have such small teeth even unknown or minor contact with bats has led to rabies infection.
  • Report any unusual animal behavior to Metro Animal Services at Casper’s non-emergency number (307) 235-8278.

Dr. Karl Musgrave, Wyoming Department of Health public health veterinarian, reminds people about the importance of animal vaccinations.

“This can keep pets, horses and livestock from getting rabies, and help protect pet owners should pets be bitten by a rabid wild animal," Musgrave said.

He also urged residents to report animal bites to local animal control officials and to follow recommended quarantine guidelines.

If you think you have been exposed to rabies, contact Leah Smith with the Casper-Natrona County Health Department at (307) 577-9745.

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