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Two bats found in Boulder County backyards where pets spend time have tested positive for rabies. One bat was found in Lafayette and one was found in Longmont.

These bats are the first two animals to test positive for the disease in Boulder County so far this year, according to a news release from Boulder County Public Health. Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is always fatal unless it is treated before any symptoms appear, the news release said.

Lane Drager, Boulder County Public Health consumer protection program coordinator, said people most commonly are exposed to rabies when they attempt to take a bat away from a family pet, interact with wildlife, pick the bat off the ground or try to remove one from their homes. Exposure to rabies is generally the result of a bite or scratch by an infected animal, and it is sometimes practically undetectable, such as a tiny puncture of the skin by a bat, the release said. Treatment for rabies exposure involves a series of vaccinations.

“It’s normal to find a bat hanging under the eaves of a house, under a porch overhang, or hidden behind shutters or gutters, but if you see one on the ground it’s an indication that something could be wrong,” Drager said.

Residents who find a bat that may have come in contact with a person, pet, or livestock should call their local animal control office.

Drager encouraged residents to make sure their pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and to keep them from interacting with wild animals.

“Unfortunately, when a pet is not vaccinated and has contact with an animal infected with rabies they must be quarantined, or even worse, euthanized,” he said.

Boulder County Public Health said that bats are the most common animal source of rabies in Colorado. On average, about 15% of bats submitted for rabies testing are positive for the disease. In the last few years, skunks have been a significant source of rabies throughout eastern Colorado and the now the front range. Other wild animals that may carry rabies include raccoons and foxes.

For questions about human contact with a bat, call the Colorado Health Information Line at 1-877-462-2911. For general information, including additional advisories to avoid exposure, visit