COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - El Paso County Public Health says a rabid skunk was found in the Black Forest area recently. This is the first time since 2013 that a skunk has tested positive for rabies in the county.
“Rabies is endemic on the front range of Colorado in bats and skunks, that is why we always encourage pet owners to vaccinate all domestic animals including dogs, cats, horses and livestock that may come in contact with wild animals,” said Dr. Chris Nevin-Woods, El Paso County Public Health Medical Director.
Rabies is a viral disease that infects the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, causing brain swelling and damage, and ultimately, death. Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid animals, resulting in the spread of the disease through their infected saliva. Rabies also can be spread when saliva from an infected animal gets into open wounds, cuts or enters through membranes of the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Rabies is fatal once symptoms appear. Public Health says you should never feed or touch stray or wild animals, and keep pets and livestock rabies vaccinations up to date through a licensed veterinarian.
Take these precautions to prevent rabies:
• Vaccinate your pets against rabies by using a licensed veterinarian. Rabies shots need to be boosted, so check your pet’s records or talk to your veterinarian.
• When walking or hiking with your dog, protect them and wildlife by keeping your dog on a leash.
• Keep cats and other pets inside at night to reduce the risk of exposure to other domestic animals and wildlife. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard, or on leash) during the day while outside.
• Contact your veterinarian promptly if you believe your pet has been exposed to a wild animal.
• Do not touch or feed wild animals. Wild animals like skunks and foxes adapt to residential environments if food is available – please don’t leave pet food outdoors.
• If you or a family member is bitten or scratched by a wild or unknown animal, call your doctor and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (719) 473-1741.
• If you encounter a lost or stray dog or cat, contact the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for options (719) 473-1741.
• Contact an animal-control or pet or wildlife for assistance with “bat-proofing” your home. Information is also available at www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management
How to recognize sick wildlife:
• Healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans.
• Sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.
• Wildlife suffering from rabies will often act aggressively and violently approach people or pets.
• However, sometimes rabid animals are overly quiet and passive and want to hide. If they are hiding, leave them alone. Rabid wildlife might also stumble or have trouble walking.
• Report sick or diseased animals to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife at (719) 227-5200.
Reports of Confirmed Rabies in El Paso County, Colorado (2010-2016)
2016: 3 (bats)
2015: 5 (bats); 1 (cat)
2014: 10 (bats)
2013: 8 (4 bats, 2 foxes, 2 skunks)
2012: 3 (3 bats)
2011: 15 (5 bats, 1 fox, 9 skunks)
2010: 17 (8 bats, 4 foxes, 5 skunks)