Jefferson County, CO — A skunk collected in Wheat Ridge near Sheridan and 35th Avenue was infected with rabies, according to lab results from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The skunk came into contact with two dogs that were not up to date with their vaccines. The dogs have received booster vaccinations and are now in quarantine. The skunk was submitted to CDPHE and the positive results of a rabies test were reported this afternoon to Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH). This is the first wild animal in Jefferson County that has tested positive for rabies this year.
In 2016, 88 animals in Colorado — both wild and domestic — were confirmed rabies positive by the CDPHE laboratory. Ten of those were from Jefferson County. The vast majority of these were wild animals with skunks and bats being the most common.
The public is strongly urged to vaccinate all of their domestic pets and valuable livestock against rabies and to be sure vaccinations are kept up-to-date. Now that rabies has been found in a terrestrial animal within the county, any domestic animal encounter with any wild animal will be treated like an exposure to a rabid animal. Domestic animals with one expired rabies or without any rabies vaccinations will be classified as high risk and be required to undergo a120-day quarantine.
“This rabies case is a good opportunity to remind people that having dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies is an easy and effective way to protect pets and humans from this deadly disease,” said Dave Volkel, Environmental Health Specialist with Jefferson County Public Health’s Zoonosis Program. “We also encourage the owners of horses, cattle and other livestock to consult with their veterinarians regarding rabies vaccination.”
Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals and is nearly always fatal. The virus is shed in the saliva of infected animals. People or animals can get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal or from a rabid animal’s saliva if it comes in contact with their eyes, nose, mouth or open wounds. Immediate medical treatment is required after exposure to an infected animal. Skunks, bats, foxes, raccoons and other wildlife should not be handled or fed to prevent exposure to this virus.
In addition to rabies vaccinations for pets and livestock, here are additional precautions to prevent possible exposure to rabies: