Press Release - Second Confirmed Rabies Case

County Dept of Health & Human Services Rabies Information

Second confirmed rabies infection of skunk

Kiowa, CO, May 21, 2018: The Elbert County Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed rabies in a second skunk near the Pineridge community/Elizabeth in addition to the one found earlier south of Kiowa. Pet owners are urged to check records to ensure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date. Livestock can also be infected with rabies and owners are encouraged to discuss the risk of rabies exposure with their local veterinarian.
Rabies can spread from wild animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons and foxes to other mammals. Between January 1, 2018, and May 14, 2018, the Colorado State University and CDPHE laboratories have confirmed rabies infection in 156 animals statewide. Of these animals, 153 were skunks, two were domestic animals and one was a bat. It is a deadly disease and vaccination is the single best method to protect your pets and livestock. People can get rabies if an animal in their home or on their property gets sick from being bitten by a rabid animal. Animal owners concerned about rabies exposure need to look for any dramatic behavioral changes in pets or wild animals. That is typically one of the hallmark signs that the animal may be suffering from rabies. Do not approach these animals.

Livestock owners need to be aware that rabies exposure can happen on their property, especially from rabid skunks that enter barns or animal pens. Veterinarians are a valuable resource to help producers decide the best course of action to protect their herds from rabies. Additionally, while house pets are often vaccinated, barn cats or outdoor pets are often forgotten.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, all cats, dogs, and ferrets should be up-to-date on rabies vaccines. Unvaccinated animals exposed to rabid wildlife must be placed in quarantine for 120 days or be euthanized. This can be avoided if the animal has been vaccinated. For statewide data, please visit https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/rabies-data.

Rabies is a viral disease in mammals that infects the brain. Rabies symptoms fall into two types: “aggressive” and “dumb.” Animals with aggressive rabies are combative and have unusually aggressive behavior such as excessive biting. There is also a “dumb” form of the disease in which the animal is lethargic, weak in one or more limbs, and unable to raise its head or make sounds because its throat and neck muscles are paralyzed.

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. For pets and livestock, routine rabies vaccination is the
best way to protect animals from infection. Animal vaccination regimens vary so livestock and pet owners
are urged to discuss the vaccine with their local veterinarian (“self” vaccination is not reliable/recognized).

In addition to ensuring that pets and livestock are vaccinated properly against rabies, here are
additional prevention steps:

  • Be aware of skunks out during the day. This is abnormal behavior and these animals should be avoided.
  • Be aware of areas that can be suitable habitat for skunks such as dark holes, under buildings, and under equipment.
  • Do not feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Be sure to teach children to stay away from wild animals. Avoid leaving pet food outside as that may attract a wild animal.
  • Contact your veterinarian right away, if any of your animals are bitten or scratched by any wild animal, particularly skunks, bats, foxes or raccoons.
  • If your animals exhibit any dramatic behavioral changes, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Isolate and avoid contact with these animals if possible.
  • If you have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal, contact your physician and local health department right away.
  • Rabies vaccination should be considered for horses and other equines, breeding livestock, dairy cattle or other livestock.
  • If you must remove a dead skunk on your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double-bag it for the trash. Do not directly touch the skunk with bare hands.
If you have questions about rabies call Elbert County HHS @ 303-621-3144 or COHELP, the
statewide public health information line at 1-877-462-2911. Additional information can also be found at the
Tri- County Health Department website at www.tchd.org/rabies.

Elbert County is located approximately 30 miles southeast of Denver and is home to over 26,000
residents. We are a unique mix of suburban bedroom communities and rural agricultural areas. The county
provides essential statutory services and supportive infrastructure to our citizens in a professional,
respectful, and cost-effective manner while creating a working environment that supports their endeavors,
western lifestyle and rights as individuals. We strive to be viewed by our citizens and employees as the
best place to live, work, and conduct business in Colorado; led in a responsive, effective, transparent, and
professional manner.

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For Immediate Release