Skunk found in Boulder County tests positive for rabies

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(Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

BOULDER, Colo. – A skunk found in Boulder tested positive for rabies, marking an increase in the number of rabies cases in Colorado among animals that travel predominantly on the ground, health officials said Friday.

A resident living near Old Tale Road and Arapahoe Road found their three dogs fighting with the skunk on April 1 and contacted animal control and public health officials to have the skunk tested.

“Fortunately, all three dogs were up to date on their rabies vaccinations so will not need to be quarantined,” Carol McInnes, Boulder County public health environmental health specialist said in a news release.

This year, four skunks have tested positive for rabies in Boulder County and 16 have tested positive in Colorado.

“We’re seeing an increase in rabies in Colorado among animals that travel predominantly on the ground, as we did in this case with a skunk,” said McInnes. “This makes the spread of rabies to pets and humans more likely since pets often seek out animals on the ground.”

Earlier this month, Weld County officials announced that five skunks had tested positive for rabies. Those skunks were found in Erie, Evans, Longmont, Mead and Keenesburg.

Officials recommend pet owners make sure rabies vaccinations are up to date for dogs, cats, horses and livestock as the most effective way to protect both animals and humans from getting rabies.

Anyone who suspects their pet came into contact with wildlife or is acting unusual or sick should call their local animal control office.

Any mammals, including humans, can contract rabies from contact with the saliva of an infected animal through a bite or scratch. Symptoms of rabies include an increase in saliva and drooling, nocturnal animals seen out during daylight, and slow or difficult movement and aggressive behavior.

Rabies is always fatal unless treated before symptoms appear, according to the Boulder Health Department.

Other recommendations according to Boulder public health officials include:

  • Do not handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic
  • Do not leave pet food or livestock feed where wildlife can get to it
  • Keep vaccinations current for all pets
  • Thoroughly wash any wound caused by an animal with soap and water, and seek medical attention immediately.

In 2014, 29 animals positive for rabies in Boulder County. For more information about rabies cases in Boulder, visit BoulderCountyVector.org or call 303-441-1564.

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