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News Release

Ten skunks (total) confirmed to have rabies in Larimer County

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Department: Health & Environment
Release Date: Jun 1, 2012

Contact Information:

Jane Viste
498-6750 (M - F)
jviste@larimer.org

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment cautions County residents and visitors that the number of skunks with rabies in Larimer County continues to grow. Two more skunks near Fort Collins have tested positive for rabies in the past week, bringing to total number of skunks tested and confirmed to have rabies to ten since May 4.   

The 9th skunk was found near Michaud Lane, at the entrance to the Reservoir Ridge Natural Area Trailhead. The skunk was seen walking through a Memorial Day barbecue at a residence next to the trail and then wandering around the trailhead parking lot, and was reported to the Humane Society. The 10th skunk was found on Thursday wandering in the daytime on Richards Lake Road in northeast Fort Collins. 
 
The Health Department stresses that although ten skunks have been captured and tested positive for rabies, there are numerous others who have been captured and appeared sick, but were not tested. Testing is only done when there is possible pet, livestock, or human contact with the rabid animal, or if a sick animal is found in an area where there have been no previous reports of rabid skunks. 
 
In addition to the two skunks, a bat that was found inside a home in the northeast Fort Collins area tested positive for rabies. Such situations demonstrate how important it is that indoor cats are fully vaccinated.
 
There will likely be numerous skunks, and possibly other animals, infected with skunk variant (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, meaning that it is 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 http://larimer.org/maps/rabies.cfm and will be updated as soon as possible after positive confirmations are made. 
 
 “Rabid skunks can be expected anywhere in along the front range of Larimer County from now on,” warned Dr. Adrienne LeBailly, director of the Health Department. 
 
“Skunks and bats that are out during the day or allow people or pets to approach them are 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.” 
 
LeBailly also stresses 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 226-3647, #7.
 
The Humane Society and the Health Department strongly urge Larimer County residents to have dogs, cats, horses and livestock vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian and make sure they are up-to-date on their shots. Only rabies vaccinations given by a licensed veterinarian are recognized in Colorado.
 
Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating other mammalian livestock. Chickens and other birds are not susceptible to rabies.
 
Unvaccinated pets or those that are not up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations and that come into contact with a rabid animal will either need to be euthanized or quarantined at a veterinary facility for an extended period. There is no cure for rabies.
 
For more information on rabies and steps you can take to lower your or your pets’ exposure to rabies, see:
http://larimer.org/health;

http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/