Jefferson County, CO — Skunk rabies continues to be a concern in Jefferson County with the 17th skunk testing positive for rabies in 2017. Additionally, a bat in Jefferson County has now also tested positive for rabies. Both bat and skunk rabies are now considered to be endemic to the Denver metro area.
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. Because rabies has been found in a terrestrial animal in the Denver metro area, 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 a 120-day quarantine.
Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other animals and is nearly always fatal. The virus is shed in the saliva of infected animals and people and 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. All wild animals including skunks, bats, foxes, and raccoons should not be handled or fed to prevent exposure to this virus. Contact your local animal control agency to address issues with wildlife on your property.
In addition to rabies vaccinations for pets and livestock, please follow these precautions to prevent 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 animal, they should wash the area thoroughly with soap and water, seek immediate medical attention. 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 serve more than your outdoor pet will finish in one feeding.
Public Health Communications