El Paso County Public Health is urging residents to take steps to protect themselves, pets, and livestock from rabies after a skunk found in Monument has tested positive for rabies.
This is the first rabid skunk found west of I-25 since 2013, and is the fifth confirmed rabid animal in El Paso County this year.
The skunk was found on Wednesday, June 7 in the yard of a home west of I-25 in Monument. The skunk was removed by the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region the same day and tested positive for rabies at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Laboratory on June 12.
In El Paso County there have been seven cases of rabies in animals (three bats and four skunks) in 2017. This is the first rabid skunk found west of I-25 since 2013 when one was found in Manitou Springs.
The skunk came in contact with three dogs, all of which were previously vaccinated for rabies. The dogs received booster vaccines and are undergoing observation. There are no known human exposures.
Unvaccinated pets or livestock are at risk of infection, which also puts owners or family members at risk. Keep pets and livestock rabies vaccinations up to date through a licensed veterinarian.
Rabies is fatal in humans if exposed by a bite or scratch from a rabid animal, and not treated. It can be spread from a bat to a person or pet by a bite or scratch, even if very small or barely noticeable. 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.
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 specialist 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)
For more information go to www.elpasocountyhealth.org.