Jefferson County, CO — Another skunk has tested positive for rabies in Jefferson County, Colorado. This one was found on the property at Stott Elementary School, 6600 Yank Way in Arvada. Public health urges anyone who may have come in contact with this skunk to notify their healthcare provider immediately. Skunk rabies is on the rise in Jefferson County with 11 skunks testing positive for rabies already in 2017. View data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies-data\.
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.
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:
- Avoid contact with any wild animals, especially any that act unusually. A healthy wild animal will generally avoid human contact.
- Teach children to stay away from all wild animals, stray domestic pets or any dead animals and tell an adult if they are scratched or bitten.
- Wildlife suffering from rabies will often be out during the day, act aggressively and violently approach people or pets. Rabid wildlife might also stumble or have trouble walking.
- Do not let pets roam freely, since this can increase the chance that they could be exposed without your knowledge.
- Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat is bitten or scratched by a wild animal.
- If a person has been bitten or scratched by a wild mammal, they should wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, seek immediate medical attention and notify their local public health agency. Prompt medical treatment is key to preventing rabies after a possible exposure.
- Do not feed wild animals, since this reduces their natural fear of humans.
- Do not leave pet food or livestock feed outside or feed more than your outdoor pet will finish in one feeding.