Jefferson County, CO — As families prepare for camping, barbecuing and other outdoor fun this Memorial Day Weekend, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) wishes to remind everyone to put safety at the top of their checklist. Just like the warm weather is drawing people outside, it’s also bringing out the animals and insects that carry disease.
This summer, take precautions to protect yourself and your family from animal- and insect-borne diseases, like Rabies, West Nile Virus, Plague and Colorado Tick Fever. These diseases, and others which are carried by wild creatures like bats, rodents, mosquitoes, fleas and ticks, can be transmitted to humans and cause serious health complications.
Last month, a fox in the Ken Caryl Ranch area that tested positive for plague, which can also be found in prairie dogs and squirrels. So far this year, JCPH has also reported 14 rabies cases in skunks throughout Jefferson County, a significant increase from last year. Soon mosquitos will be breeding, increasing the potential exposure to West Nile Virus as the summer goes on.
Protection against insects takes planning. Wear a repellent with DEET, choose appropriate clothing (long sleeves and pants), and avoid contact with wild animals that may carry insects. Avoid areas such as prairie dog towns. Be sure to report unusual wild animal activity or aggressiveness to your local animal control agency. At home, drain any standing water to prevent mosquito breeding and make sure the screens on your windows and doors are in good condition.
JCPH Environmental Specialist Dave Volkel also urges Jeffco residents to make sure their pets are vaccinated for rabies. “Even if your pets are indoor pets, it is still a major concern. Bats can also be infected with rabies and are often found indoors,” Volkel said. “Valuable livestock such as horses or cattle should also be vaccinated.” Check out the JCPH YouTube channel to see where you can get your animals vaccinated in Jefferson County or contact your veterinarian.
Public Engagement Coordinator