Public Health & Environment News

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease.  It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.

Important News Regarding Public Health Services in Elbert County
Elbert County has contracted with Tri-County Public Health to assist in provision of services. As we progress in our services plan we will post more details to this web site. In the meantime please contact our office directly with any questions at 303-621-3149, option 0.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture and Elbert County Department of Health and Human Services Department have confirmed rabies in a skunk near Kiowa.  Pet owners are urged to check records to ensure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date. Livestock can also be infected with rabies and owners are encouraged to discuss the risk of rabies exposure with their local veterinarian. 

Rabies can spread from wild animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes to other mammals. There has been a big increase in early 2018 of animals infected with Rabies.  It is a deadly disease and vaccination is the single best method to protect your pets and livestock. People can get rabies if an animal in their home or on their property gets sick from being bitten by a rabid animal.  Animal owners concerned about rabies exposure need to look for any dramatic behavioral changes in pets or wild animals. That is typically one of the hallmark signs that the animal may be suffering from rabies. Do not approach these animals.

Livestock owners need to be aware that rabies exposure can happen on their property, especially from rabid skunks that gain entry into barns or animal pens. Veterinarians are a valuable resource to help producers decide the best course of action to protect their herds from rabies. Additionally, while house pets are often vaccinated, barn cats or outdoor pets are often forgotten, according to State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, so far in 2018, 44 animals from Colorado have tested positive for rabies – mostly in skunks but also one alpaca. Of those, 12 rabid animals were known or strongly suspected of exposing 33 domestic pets, 7 livestock animals, and 2 people. For statewide data, please visit

Rabies is a viral disease in mammals that infects the brain.  Rabies symptoms fall into two types: “aggressive” and “dumb.” Animals with aggressive rabies are combative and have unusually aggressive behavior such as excessive biting. There is also a “dumb” form of the disease in which the animal is 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 is spread primarily by saliva through the bite of a rabid animal. Once symptoms of rabies infection appear, there is no cure and the infection is fatal. People that have been exposed to rabies can receive medication treatment to prevent illness. For pets and livestock, routine rabies vaccination is the best way to protect animals from infection. Animal vaccination regimens vary so livestock and pet owners are urged to discuss the vaccine with their local veterinarian. Pet vaccination is also required in many jurisdictions for licensure.

In addition to ensuring that pets and livestock are vaccinated properly against rabies, here are additional prevention steps:
  • Be aware of skunks out during the day. This is abnormal behavior and these animals should be avoided.
  • Be aware of areas that can be suitable habitat for skunks such as dark holes, under buildings, and under equipment.
  • Do not feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Be sure to teach children to stay away from wild animals. Avoid leaving pet food outside as that may attract a wild animal.
  • Contact your veterinarian right away, if any of your animals are bitten or scratched by any wild animal, particularly skunks, bats, foxes or raccoons.
  • If your animals exhibit any dramatic behavioral changes, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Isolate and avoid contact with these animals if possible.
  • If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal, contact your physician and local health department right away.
  • Rabies vaccination should be considered for horses and other equines, breeding livestock, dairy cattle or other livestock.
  • If you must remove a dead skunk on your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double-bag it for the trash. Do not directly touch the skunk with bare hands.
 If you have questions about rabies call Elbert County HHS @ 030-621-3144 or COHELP, the statewide public health information line at 1-877-462-2911. Additional information can also be found at the Tri- County Health Department website at
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