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Rabid skunks approach pets in Boulder County

Public health officials recommend that these precautions be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Two skunks found in Boulder County last week have tested positive for rabies.

Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) said the first rabid skunk was discovered Wednesday, June 22, near Olde Stage Road in unincorporated Boulder County when their dog approached the dying animal and was bitten on the tail.

The second skunk was found on Thursday, June 23, near Aurora Avenue and Grant Place in Boulder, when residents heard their dog barking and growling at the sick animal near their front porch, said BCPH.

"Both infected skunks were discovered after a pet engaged with them," said Carol McInnes of BCPH. "Encounters with sick animals can be dangerous and these recent instances provide a good reminder to keep a close eye on your pets and ensure their vaccinations are current. Luckily, in both cases, the pet’s vaccinations were up to date, and the dogs only needed to get a rabies booster vaccination and be monitored for 45 days."

BCPH said rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always fatal unless it is treated before any symptoms appear.

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.

Bats and skunks are the most common animal sources of rabies in Colorado. Other wild animals that may carry rabies include raccoons and foxes.

Public health tips to reduce chances of exposure to rabies:

  • Do not handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Contact animal control to collect the animal.
  • Do not feed wildlife.
  • Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is a wild animal in the area or if they are bitten or scratched.
  • Eliminate food sources for wild animals by not feeding pets outdoors, closing pet doors (especially at night), and tightly closing garbage cans and feed bins.
  • Ensure that your pets, horses and livestock are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.
  • Maintain control of pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
  • Thoroughly wash any wound caused by an animal with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

For more information about rabies, visit BoulderCountyVector.org or call 303-441-1564.

RELATED: Bat in northern Colorado park tests positive for rabies

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