JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- About the last wild animal you want to have an up-close and personal encounter with is mephitis mephitis, aka, the striped skunk. Especially if that skunk has rabies.
In Jefferson County, four skunks with the rabies virus were recently caught, two in Arvada, one in Golden and one in unincorporated Jefferson County.
“It’s very dangerous. It carries the rabies virus which is a fatal virus,” Jefferson County Animal Control Officer Chana Guy said.
Jefferson County Animal Control uses special skunk-catching gear. Some gear is improvised and effective, like full-size plastic garbage bags the animal control officers use to keep the skunk from spraying their skin and clothes.
They don’t normally have to warn adults about staying away from skunks. But children and pets can be vulnerable. So, can you tell just by looking at a skunk if it has rabies?
“Not necessarily. I think the one that was rabid down in Denver recently that was attacking the little boy, there were no other signs except for its aggression,” said Chris Padilla, a Jefferson County Animal Control officer.
Pet owners should be aware.
“Domesticated dogs and cats are curious. They are animals and they are curious. If they see or smell a skunk, they’re going to investigate it,” Guy said.
Keep your dog on a leash and make your outside cat an indoor cat. He might not like it at first, but it beats an encounter with Pepe LePew.