Health experts in Pueblo County say in 2009, no animals tested positive for rabies. In 2010, there have been four cases, and the concern that domestic pets, livestock and people are at risk.
Tuesday, Pueblo City-County Health Department officials announced the 4th case of rabies found in a wild skunk. The skunk was found in the area of Baxter Road and Consolidation Lane, along the Arkansas River waterway in Pueblo County.
“It is important for pet owners to protect their pets from rabies with a rabies vaccine. Look at your pet’s tag or medical papers and make sure they have their current rabies vaccine,” stated Dr. Christine Nevin-Woods. She added, “Skunks, that may have rabies, can be found near houses and interacting with people and pets.”
Health officials say if you see a skunk out during the day acting abnormally, such as stumbling or acting overly aggressive, make sure to stay away from the animal, especially children and pets, and call Pueblo Animal Services (719) 544-3005 to report the location.
Dogs and cats with expired vaccinations or no rabies vaccination who are exposed to rabies, have an extremely high chance of getting infected and dying from the disease. Pets exposed to rabies also pose a tremendous risk to humans because they can bring rabies into the home.
Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid mammals and is almost always fatal. After a bite or other high risk exposure to a rabid animal, the person needs to start treatment immediately to survive.
While rabies is most commonly found in bats, people and pets should avoid contact with skunks and other wild animals such as foxes or raccoons, since these animals may be rabid.
“Leaving pet food outside will attract wildlife. Please keep your pet food away and make it inaccessible to wildlife,” Dr. Nevin-Woods added.
Here are some key rabies prevention steps:
-Ensure that dogs, cats and ferrets are vaccinated properly against rabies by a licensed veterinarian.
-Discuss vaccinating horses and other livestock with your veterinarian. If you believe your animal has been exposed to rabies, or possibly bitten by a rabid animal, immediately contact your veterinarian.
-Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Teach children to stay away from wild mammals. Do not keep pet food outside as that may attract wild animals.
-Protect all pets, particularly animals too young to be vaccinated, from contact with wild animals. Puppies and kittens should be vaccinated for rabies as early as three months old.
-Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by wild animals, such as skunks, bats, foxes or raccoons.
If you or a family member has been bitten by a wild animal or a domestic animal, contact your physician and Pueblo Animal Services at 719-544-3005 immediately.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates their web site every Friday with rabies data. You can visit that site by clicking on the link provided below this story.
Colorado State University veterinarians provide recommendations for livestock and horses to be vaccinated for rabies. A link to that recommendation is also posted below this story.
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