Be aware. Another skunk has tested positive for rabies in Pueblo County this year. Health experts say vaccinating your pets and keeping your kids away from wildlife are the best ways to avoid exposure.
Here is a health alert from the Pueblo City-County Health Department.
Public Health Officials today announced the fourth skunk to test positive for rabies in Pueblo County this year. This latest rabid skunk was found in the backyard of a home near Mineral Palace Park in the City of Pueblo.
“It is very important your pets and livestock are up to date with their rabies vaccination,” stated Heather Maio, environmental health director at the Pueblo City-County Health Department. “In order to protect the community as we see more and more rabid skunks, it is important pet owners take individual responsibility to vaccinate their pets and follow the licensing and leash laws."
This rabid skunk, like the three picked up before, was in a home yard during daylight hours. The home where the skunk was picked up by the Health Department is near 20th Street and Court Street on the north side of Pueblo. Earlier this week, a rabid skunk was picked up west of Lake Minnequa. “There is now a concern skunks with rabies are moving throughout populated areas of Pueblo as rabid skunks have been seen near Mineral Palace Park and Lake Minnequa,” explained Maio.
“Unfortunately in the current situation, a pet came in contact with the skunk and the pet was not vaccinated,” Maio said. “We realize pets are an important part of people’s families and seeing their pets harmed or threatened is difficult."
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
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.
“Even young or older animals that first receive a rabies shot must wait 28 days for adequate protection. You should contact your veterinarian to review your pet’s shot records if you are not sure when it had its last rabies shot. If your pet is over 12 weeks old and has not had a rabies shot or needs a rabies booster shot, take time now to contact your veterinarian or stop by a low cost clinic to protect your pet with a vaccination,” Maio emphasized.
“Reduce the possibility that a skunk will be at your home. Remove areas in your yard where skunks may hide. Do not leave pet food and trash outside as it will attract wildlife,” Maio added.
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.