The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment (LCDHE) has confirmed that a skunk in Larimer County has tested positive for rabies. It is the first Larimer County animal to test positive for the deadly disease. While no humans have been exposed to the skunk, it is a reminder that the county’s wildlife can be carriers and potentially spread rabies to other animals and humans who come in contact with them. The skunk was found on April 29 in the Wilson area and 14th Street SW in Loveland by an owner who observed the animal to be sick. The owner knew he needed to quickly call Animal Control, who then took the animal safely and arranged for the specimen to be tested.
Rabies is spread primarily through saliva from the bite of a rabid animal. Once the symptoms of the rabies infection appear, there is no cure and the infection is fatal. People who have been exposed to rabies may receive drug treatment to prevent the disease. In Larimer County, rabies is most commonly found in skunks and bats, but it is occasionally found in other mammals. LCDHE reminds pet and livestock owners to keep their animals up to date on rabies vaccinations to avoid lengthy and costly quarantines – or even euthanasia – if they have an encounter with a rabid animal. Livestock owners should check with their veterinarians for 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, director of environmental health for the Department of Health and Human Resources. Larimer County environment. “This is a good time to remind everyone to stay away from wildlife and make sure animals are up to date on their rabies vaccinations.”
There are many ways to protect yourself and your family, for example, do not feed or touch wild animals. If a wild animal seems sick, don’t try to save it yourself. Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is any wildlife in the area or if it is bitten or scratched. Eliminate food sources for wildlife by not feeding animals outdoors, closing animal doors, especially at night, and tightly closing garbage cans and feed bins. Finally, make sure your pets, horses, and livestock are up to date with their rabies vaccinations. For the latest information on rabies in Larimer County, visit http://www.larimer.org/rabies.
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