skunk

A skunk has tested positive for rabies after it bit a pet dog in Longmont Wednesday, the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office announced.

Deputies said the skunk entered the pet owner’s property on Quail Road and, when the dog approached it, bit the dog on the leg and paw. After pulling the skunk off the dog, the owner called animal control to submit it for rabies testing.

The dog and owner were also submitted for rabies testing, deputies said. Their results have not been announced.

“Fortunately, this pet owner understood there might be a risk of rabies and did the right thing by contacting animal control to have the skunk tested,” said Carol McInnes, environmental health specialist with Boulder County Public Health.

McInnes said another skunk that appeared to have rabies was seen near Quail Road about three weeks prior to this incident. That skunk had no known contact with people or animals.

Anyone in the area who has been in contact with a skunk or had an animal injured by a skunk or other unknown animal should call Boulder County Public Health at 303-441-1564.

Residents should call their local animal control office whenever their pets may have come into contact with wildlife or when they see animals looking sick or acting unusual. Wild animals like raccoons and foxes commonly carry rabies.

Pets that are not vaccinated against rabies may need to be euthanized or placed in a four-month facility quarantine if they encounter a rabid animal.

“Making sure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for dogs, cats, horses, and valuable livestock is the most important and effective way to protect both animals and humans from contracting rabies,” McInnes said.

Rabies is usually spread from a bite or scratch by an infected animal. It is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system and is almost always fatal to humans unless treated before symptoms appear.

Officials remind residents to avoid rabies exposure by not handling unfamiliar animals, vaccinating pets, keeping cats and ferrets indoors, keeping dogs under direct supervision when outside and not leaving pet food accessible to wildlife.

If wounded by an animal, one should thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.