Be aware. A 7th skunk has tested positive for rabies in Pueblo County in just the last three weeks. A number that is shocking to health officials who say it is still the beginning of the season.
Experts say they only had 9 rabid skunks total last year. They are expecting a high number of rabies reports this year, but say at this point they have not peaked.
They are urging you to vaccinate your pets. Officials remind owners that the cost of the vaccination is must less than the cost of losing your pet. In just the last three weeks, two unvaccinated dogs had to be euthanized after coming in contact with a rabid skunk.
By vaccinating your pets, it’s also the best way to protect your family from any possible exposure.
It’s also important to keep your kids away from wildlife. These rabid skunks are nocturnal creatures but are coming out in the daylight, which is abnormal behavior. You should be on the lookout.
It is important to report a skunk that may or has come in contact with your pet as the Health Department will help determine if the pet needs to receive a rabies vaccination booster or be quarantined. A quarantine can be a minimum of 10 days, often at a home, or may last up to six months at a facility. Call to report a skunk you see during daylight hours.
United States Department Agriculture:
Weekdays (719) 250-9035
Weekends & Nights 9-1-1
If a skunk is acting aggressive during the day, you can call 9-1-1.
A rabies vaccination must be given by a licensed veterinarian. The vaccination must be in the animal’s body for 28 days for the vaccine to be effective.
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.
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.
• Do not 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.
• Take steps to bat proof your home. http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management/index.html
• If you or a family member has been bitten by a wild or domestic animal, contact your physician immediately.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates their website every Friday with rabies data at www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/zoonosis/rabies/.
Colorado State University veterinarians provide recommendations for livestock and horses to be vaccinated for rabies at: http://www.cvmbs.colostate.edu/ns/pubs/einsight/2010/december/rabiesvaccine.aspx.
Go to http://www.cdc.gov/rabies or www.pueblorabieswatch.blogspot.com for more information about rabies.