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The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) has confirmed that a skunk in Larimer County has tested positive for rabies. This is the first animal in Larimer County to test positive for the fatal disease. While no humans were exposed to the skunk, this serves as a reminder that wildlife in the county can carry and potentially spread rabies to other animals and humans who come into contact with them. The skunk was found on April 29 in the area of Wilson and 14th Street SW in Loveland by a homeowner who observed that the animal was sick. The homeowner knew to promptly call Animal Control, who then safely picked up the animal and arranged for the specimen to be tested.
Rabies is spread primarily by saliva through the bite of a rabid animal. Once symptoms of rabies infection appear, there is no cure and the infection is fatal. People that have been exposed to rabies can receive medication treatment to prevent illness. In Larimer County, rabies is most normally found in skunks and bats but does occasionally cross into other mammals. LCDHE reminds pet and livestock owners to keep their animals up-to-date on rabies vaccinations to prevent lengthy and costly quarantines—or even euthanasia—if they have an encounter with a rabid animal. Livestock owners should check with their veterinarians about rabies vaccinations for their horses, cattle, and other livestock.
“This is the time of year when we start to see rabies in bats and skunks in Larimer County,” says Chris Manley, Environmental Health Director for the Larimer County Department of Health and Environment. “It’s a good time to remind everyone to keep their distance from wildlife and to make sure that pets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.”
There are several ways to protect yourself and your family, for instance, do not feed or touch wildlife. If a wild animal appears sick, do not attempt to rescue it yourself. Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is a wild animal in the area or if they are bitten or scratched. Eliminate food sources for wild animals by not feeding pets outdoors, closing pet doors especially at night, and tightly closing garbage cans and feed bins. Lastly, ensure that your pets, horses and livestock are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. For the latest information on rabies in Larimer County, visit http://www.larimer.org/rabies.