Motorcycles safety, rabies, and a new trail Summer is here and that means a lot of people are heading outdoors for fun and recreation. Play it safe by taking precautions relevant for your kind of fun. Also check out new play areas.

Motorcycle safety

The summer's longer days and warmer weather combine to make it a great time of the year for riding a motorcycle. Most motorcycle riders in Larimer County are courteous and safely operate their vehicles. However, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office recently responded to several incidents where motorcyclists willfully drove in an unsafe manner, posing a risk to themselves and others. This included unsafe speeds, passing in no passing zones, weaving around traffic, and fleeing from Sheriff’s Deputies and other law enforcement officers. 

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (www.msf-usa.org) stresses that riding a motorcycle involves some risks not encountered when operating a car or truck. Compared to other motor vehicles, motorcycles don’t offer the same amount of stability, make the operator more vulnerable due to less protection and aren’t as visible because of their size. 

The Sheriff’s Office encourages motorcyclists to consciously think about motorcycle safety and recommends the following:

  • Attend a motorcycle rider safety course appropriate for the rider’s ability level
  • Possess a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement
  • Wear personal protective gear, including a helmet and high-visibility clothing
  • Obey all traffic laws
  • Continuously think about safety margins: stay within personal skill limits and the motorcycle’s performance limitations, and remain alert to respond to traffic situations.
  • Citizens also are encouraged to contact local law enforcement if they see dangerous activity. 

“We are concerned with some recent behavior and want to stress safe motorcycle operation,” says Deputy Jason Hart, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office traffic safety unit.

New trail and bridge open in Loveland

After three-plus years of planning and work to secure FEMA approval, construction of the new recreation trail bridge over the Big Thompson River downstream from Wilson Avenue is complete, and the bridge and realigned trail are open for the first time since the 2013 Flood.

The bridge and trail were part of a vast flood recovery project along the Big Thompson corridor between Wilson and Taft Avenues that also included storm-water improvements, habitat restoration and other features to make the zone more resilient in future floods.

Parking at the Wilson Avenue trailhead is now open; parking also is available at Centennial Park at the intersection of Taft Avenue and West First Street. Additional parking is available at the Loveland Service Center, 200 N. Wilson Ave.  

“Although heavily damaged by the 2013 Flood, this is a beautiful and well-loved stretch of river,” says Chris Carlson, civil engineer and project manager. “It’s great to see so many people already out on the new bridge and repaired trail. We took advantage of this opportunity to not just replace what was there before the flood, but to make it better for the community and the river corridor. It was a long time coming, but it’s been a very successful project.”

Puppy gets skunked

A rabid skunk near rural Hudson is suspected of attacking a puppy, resulting in the spread of rabies to the dog. The puppy came in contact with four other dogs and six people in Weld County, and five others outside of the county. CSU lab testing confirmed rabies in the puppy; the dogs and people are receiving post-exposure preventive rabies treatment. There are no other exposure concerns for the public or other animals from this Hudson case. 

"The best protection against rabies is to avoid contact with wild animals and keep your pets vaccinated,” says Mark E. Wallace, MD, MPH, Weld County Health Department executive director. “If your pet is too young to be vaccinated, do not allow it to be outside unsupervised."     

Any mammal, including humans, is at risk for contracting rabies. “The risk of human exposure to rabies increases when pets and domestic animals are not properly vaccinated. If you are in direct contact with a rabid animal, such as a skunk or bat, your risk is much higher,” says Wallace.  Rabies can infect many wild animals, including foxes, raccoons, coyotes, and bats.  Health officials recommend all domestic animals such as cats, dogs, horses and livestock be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.    

Signs of rabies include increases in saliva and drooling, nocturnal animals seen out during the daytime, slow or difficult movement, and confusion or aggression. Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that affects the nervous system. Rabies causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and is nearly always fatal. It is transmitted in saliva through the bite of an infected animal. The virus can also be transmitted in saliva to an open cut, scratch or wound. If a person suspects they have been exposed to rabies, they should contact their medical provider immediately. Effective vaccination treatment is available to prevent rabies if started before symptoms appear.

To prevent exposure to rabies:

  • Do not feed, touch or handle wild animals and be cautious of stray dogs and cats
  • Have dogs, cats, horses and livestock vaccinated regularly by a licensed veterinarian
  • Spay or neuter pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in the neighborhood
  • Do not feed wild animals or keep pet food outside, which may attract wild animals.

For an interactive map of identified rabies in Weld County, visit: www.weldgov.com/departments/health_and_environment/environmental_health/animal_related_diseases/rabies_surveillance/