Two skunks test positive for rabies in Weld County

WELD COUNTY, Colo. — Two skunks found on residential properties in south Greeley on March 11 and March 14 have tested positive for rabies. Animal control consulted the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment upon learning of an altercation on each property between dogs and the skunks. The skunks were submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment laboratory for testing, and WCDPHE received positive results on March 14 and March 16, respectively.

Rabies is nearly 100% fatal if left untreated. Rabies infects wild animals, including foxes, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and bats. Bats and skunks are the two main carriers of rabies in Colorado. Not all skunks have rabies, but if a skunk is acting strangely, such as lying on the ground, being out during daylight hours, exhibiting loss of motor skills, or acting aggressively, it may be sick.

Health officials stress that all domestic animals, such as cats, dogs, horses, and livestock should be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Over the past several years, a variety of animal-to-human contacts have led several dozen Weld County residents to require rabies immune globulin and vaccine for post-exposure treatment.

Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system. Rabies causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and is almost always fatal. It is transmitted from saliva of an infected animal through a bite or contact with an open cut, scratch, or wound. If a person suspects they have been exposed to rabies, they should contact their medical provider immediately. Effective vaccination treatment is available to prevent rabies if started before symptoms appear. There have been no human deaths related to rabies exposure in Weld County.

To prevent exposure to rabies:

• Do not feed, touch, or handle any wild animals.

• Have dogs, cats, horses, and livestock vaccinated regularly by a licensed veterinarian.

• Keep a close eye on any new puppy or kitten while it is outdoors until it has received the rabies vaccine and for 28 days after.

• Spay or neuter pets to reduce the number of unwanted or stray animals in the neighborhood.

Contact WCDPHE at (970) 400-2290 for questions or if anyone or their pets has had contact with a skunk. For after-hours (outside of 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday), contact Weld County Dispatch at (970) 350-9600 and select option 4.


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