Tri-County Health Department officials are urging Adams County residents to get their pets and livestock vaccinated against rabies after a dead skunk found on a private property in Brighton was found to have the viral disease.
The skunk was found on a northern Adams County property just south of Weld County. There was no known animal or human exposure to the skunk.
Dr. Jennifer Brown, a Tri-County Health Department veterinarian and disease intervention specialist, said the most recent discovery in Brighton marked the first time a rabid skunk was found in a more populous area of the county.
“We haven’t had a human case of rabies in the entire state since the 1930s, and we definitely want to keep it that way,” Brown said. “There’s no reason for people to be alarmed, but we do want to put the word out so that they know what they need to do. Basically, this is nature’s way of telling us that we need to vaccinate our dogs, cats, or civilized livestock against rabies.”
According to the Tri-County Health Department website, rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals by causing severe inflammation in their brain and spinal cord. The disease, which is transmitted in saliva through animal bites, is nearly always fatal.
People or animals can also contract rabies, if a rabid animal’s saliva comes in contact with their eyes, nose, mouth or open wounds. Immediate medical treatment is required after exposure to an infected animal.
Brown said rabies infections in animals are typically characterized by hallmark neurological symptoms, such as confusion, a circling or staggering gait, seizures and excessive salivation.
Rabid animals may also exhibit abnormal behavior or temperament changes, such as increased aggression or isolation, irritability, restlessness or abrupt reactions to non-existent objects.
Brown said animals exhibiting any of these symptoms, especially wild skunks, should be reported to a public health official or veterinarian for rabies testing.
For more information about rabies or whom to call in response to a suspect animal, call COHELP, the statewide public health information line, at 1-877-462-2911. Additional information about rabies is also available at the Tri-County Public Health website at: www.tchd.org/rabies.htm.