A skunk found in Lafayette on Wednesday tested positive for rabies after spraying a dog.
A Lafayette resident noticed that his dog had been sprayed by a skunk and later found a dead skunk in his backyard. The dog had previously been vaccinated against rabies, and is currently under home observation for 45 days, according to a press release.
The resident contacted Lafayette Animal Control, who notified Boulder County Public Health.
BCPH is asking residents to call 303-441-1564 if they or pets have been in contact with a skunk in the area or if they have noticed a recent bite from an unknown source.
Ground rabies, such as skunk rabies, is carried by animals that move primarily on the ground, the statement said. In recent years, skunks have been a major source of rabies throughout eastern Colorado, now including the Front Range. Raccoons and foxes are other wildlife that can carry rabies.
“Ensuring that rabies vaccinations are up to date for dogs, cats, horses and livestock is the most important and effective way to protect animals and humans from rabies,” said Marshall Lipps, environmental health specialist from BCPH. “Unfortunately, unvaccinated rabies animals that come into contact with a rabid animal may need to be euthanized or placed in a four-month quarantine at the owner’s expense.”
Exposure to rabies is usually the result of a bite or scratch from an infected animal, and is sometimes undetectable. Treatment of exposure to rabies involves a series of vaccinations.
Public health officials recommend the following precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies:
- Do not handle unfamiliar animals.
- Wash any animal injury thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
- Keep vaccinations up to date for all dogs, cats, ferrets and horses.
- Maintain control of pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
- Teach children to leave wildlife alone.
- Do not leave pet food or feed in areas accessible to wildlife.
- If a person or pet has been bitten or has been in contact with a skunk or wildlife, seek medical attention immediately, then contact your local animal control agency or Boulder County Public Health Department to arrange a rabies test.