Two more skunks found near Fort Collins have tested positive for rabies, bringing the total number of rabid skunks found to five in the past two weeks.
The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment announced Thursday that the two most recent cases were reported on Taft Hill Road. One skunk was chased from a poultry enclosure of a private home near Taft Hill and Vine Drive and found dead the next morning. The other was seen out in daylight and walking in circles in a neighborhood near Horsetooth and Taft Hill roads.
The five skunks are the first of what will likely be numerous skunks, and possibly other animals, infected with a type of rabies that first arrived in Colorado in 2007. Until recently, bats had been the main carrier of rabies in Colorado.
Skunk rabies is a type of “terrestrial” rabies carried by animals that travel on the ground, rather than by bats that fly. Rabies in ground-dwelling animals increases the risk of rabies exposure to pets and livestock. 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.
The Health Department has posted a map that shows where skunks and bats that have tested positive for rabies have been found since early May. The map is at larimer.org/maps/rabies.cfm and will be updated as soon as possible after positive confirmations are made.
“This map is meant to be used for a quick reference of recently confirmed rabies, not as a guide to where you are most at risk,” explained Adrienne LeBailly, MD, director of the health department. “Rabid skunks can be expected anywhere along the front range of Larimer County from now on.
“Though most skunks and bats do not carry rabies, those that are out during the day or allow people or pets to approach them are more likely to be sick,” she added. “It’s wise to remain vigilant and follow the recommendations on how to protect yourselves and your pets from a rabid animal.”
There is no cure for rabies.
LeBailly also stressed that if you see a skunk or bat that’s behaving strangely, keep your distance and call the Larimer Humane Society’s animal control number at 970-226-3647, ext. 7.
The health department strongly urges county residents to vaccinate dogs, cats, ferrets and horses against rabies and making sure they are up-to-date on their shots. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating other mammalian livestock. Chickens and other birds are not susceptible to rabies.
Unvaccinated pets 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, followed by another 90 days of home quarantine, which can be very expensive. Pets behind in their vaccinations must be vaccinated and quarantined at home for 90 days. Fully vaccinated pets need a booster and 45 days of observation at home.
For more information, go to larimer.org/health.