Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls visitors are urged to contact public health officials if they or their pets come into contact with a rabid bat found in the area.

Some visitors to the Rainbow Falls Historic Site near Manitou Springs are being urged to contact public health officials after a bat near the waterfall tested positive for rabies.

People and any pets who visited the site from Aug. 7 through Monday and might have had contact with the rabid bat are asked to call their doctor and El Paso County Public Health, at 578-3220, to receive a preventive vaccination against the disease, which is fatal once symptoms appear.

“For this bat in particular, it’s pretty important (to contact health officials),” said Haley Zachary, the agency’s lead communicable disease epidemiologist. “Rabies is a universally fatal disease. Anyone who gets it will die. But it’s 100% preventable with a vaccine.”

Rabies causes fatal brain swelling and is primarily spread from the bite of an infected animal, or when infected saliva gets into open wounds or the eyes, nose or mouth, the health department said.

Infected animals often act strangely and should be avoided. Rabid bats, for example, can be unable to fly or can be seen outside during daytime, though bats are nocturnal.

The rabid bat marks the 12th animal to test positive for the virus this year in the county. The others were three bats, seven skunks, a fox and a dog.

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