Department: Health & Environment
Release Date: May 12, 2012
Two more skunks were confirmed to have rabies on Friday, one found in an area near the entrance to the Fort Collins Country Club, and the other approximately 2 miles due north of the first. This raises the number of skunks confirmed to have rabies close to Fort Collins to three in the past 2 weeks.
The first skunk had no known contact with humans or pets, but the second had climbed into an enclosure where two dogs were kept, and the dogs killed the skunk. Fortunately both dogs were up to date on their vaccines, will get rabies boosters, and be on home observation for 45 days.
All Larimer County residents are urgently advised to keep their pets, horses and livestock vaccinated and up-to-date, and to avoid skunks that are out in daylight or are behaving strangely.
"I cant emphasize too strongly how important it is to make sure your animals are vaccinated," said Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, the Countys public health director. "In Pueblo, where skunk rabies first appeared in late 2010, theyve already had to euthanize 11unvaccinated animals. As a pet owner and animal lover, it breaks my heart to see animals have to be destroyed. I know there are a lot of unvaccinated horses in the county."
Unusual behavior can include a skunk that is acting frenetic, walking in circles, is not afraid of approaching pets or humans, or is highly aggressive. They may also look sluggish or tame and have difficulty with walking or balance.
If you see a skunk that might be rabid, especially if there has been contact with pets or people, call the Larimer Humane Society at (970) 226-3647 ext. 7 immediately, even if the pets are fully vaccinated
Larimer County residents and visitors are cautioned to keep their distance from all skunks and wildlife (including bats, foxes, coyotes, raccoons), and always keep animals on a leash outdoors. Cats should be vaccinated and not be allowed to roam outside. County residents who own unvaccinated horses or livestock should talk to their veterinarians about getting them immunized.
Unvaccinated dogs and cats that come into contact with a rabid animal will either need to be euthanized or vaccinated and quarantined at a veterinary facility for 90 days, which can be very expensive, followed by another 90 days of home quarantine. Pets that are behind in their vaccinations must be vaccinated and quarantined at home for 90 days. Fully vaccinated pets need a booster shot and 45 days of observation at home. There is no cure for rabies.
On May 2, 2012 a skunk found near the foothills was confirmed to have the skunk form of rabies, the first time this type of rabies has been confirmed in a populated area of Larimer County.
Before 2007, the main reservoir (source) for rabies in Colorado was bats. Since 2007, however, skunk rabies has spread from eastern Colorado along the Front Range. Skunks are now considered the main reservoir for rabies in Colorado.
Once skunk rabies is established in an area, more cases can be expected. In just the last eight weeks in Pueblo, Colorado, 13 rabid skunks and 1 rabid fox have been confirmed, according to their informative blog, Pueblo Rabies Watch, at http://pueblorabieswatch.blogspot.com/..
More information on Rabies is available under Current Topics at www.larimer.org/health.