A skunk found Sunday near So0uth Idalia Court in Superior has tested positive for rabies. Residents saw the animal and contacted Boulder County Animal Control who notified Boulder County Public Health and sent the sample for testing.
Although this skunk had no known human or animal contact, Boulder County Public Health is asking any resident who lives in the area to contact BCPH if they had any contact with the skunk or if a domestic animal had contact or an unknown recent bite.
Terrestrial rabies, such as skunk rabies, is carried by animals that travel predominantly on the ground. In the last few years, skunks have been a significant source of rabies throughout eastern Colorado, now including the Front Range. Other wild animals that may carry rabies include raccoons and foxes.
"Making sure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for dogs, cats, horses and livestock is the most important and effective way to protect both animals and humans from contracting rabies," said Carol McInnes, Boulder County Public Health environmental health specialist. "Sadly, pets with no rabies vaccination that come into contact with a rabid animal may need to be euthanized or placed in a four-month quarantine at the owner's expense."
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. Treatment for rabies exposure involves a series of vaccinations.
Public health officials recommend the following precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies:
- Do NOT handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Contact animal control to collect the animal.
- Thoroughly wash any wound caused by an animal with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
- Keep vaccinations current for all dogs, cats, and ferrets.
- Maintain control of pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
- Teach children to leave wildlife alone.
- Do not leave pet food or livestock feed in areas that are accessible to wildlife.
- If a person or pet has been bitten by or has had contact with a bat or wild animal, seek medical care immediately, and then contact your local animal control agency or Boulder County Public Health to arrange for rabies testing.