HEALTH ALERT: Skunks test positive for rabies in Pueblo County, get your pets and livestock vaccinated

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PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Health officials in Pueblo are urging the public to get their pets and livestock vaccinated after multiple skunks tested positive for rabies in the city of Pueblo.

Officials sent out an alert on Jan. 25 and then a new one on Wednesday. On Wednesday, health officials announced a skunk tested positive for rabies near North Mesa Elementary School on Gale Road in Pueblo County. Skunks have tested positive in the area of City Park; however, this is the first skunk to test positive in the St. Charles Mesa area in Pueblo County this year.

“It is important to keep your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, as rabies is carried in wild animals throughout Colorado,” stated Vicki Carlton, program manager at the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

Carlton added, “Leave wild animals alone and move your pets away from wild animals if one is encountered.”

Rabies is caused by a virus transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Rabies also can be transmitted if the animal’s saliva gets into a cut or break in the skin.

“People can be exposed to rabies when they assist, feed, handle or come in contact with wild animals,” Jody Carrillo, Environmental Health and Emergency Preparedness division director with the health department, further explained.

Here are some tips from the Pueblo County Health Department to avoid exposure:

- Never touch a skunk or any other wild animal. Healthy skunks, raccoons and nocturnal animals typically come out in the evening. If the animals are acting tame, especially in the day, they may be sick. Children who find wild animals should leave them where they are, do not touch the wild animal, and tell an adult.

- Do not pick up a skunk with your hands, even if you’re wearing gloves. Use a shovel to place it in a bucket or coffee can if the animal must be moved prior to calling Pueblo Animal Services.

- If you are bitten by a skunk or other wild animal, wash the bite thoroughly with soap and water then contact both your physician and the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment.

- Keep your doors and windows covered with intact screens. Do not leave doors or windows, without screens, open in the evening.

- Keep your dogs on a leash when walking them.

- Make sure your pets are vaccinated against rabies. Keep in mind vaccines not administered by a licensed veterinarian are not considered valid vaccinations in the State of Colorado, including Pueblo County.