Plug your nose and keep your pup on a tight leash. Rabid skunks have been confirmed in eight Colorado counties. Here’s what you can do to prevent rabies!

Rabid skunks have been confirmed in several counties, including El Paso County. The Colorado Department of Agriculture released a statement on Monday, May 16:

The Department of Agriculture would like to stress two very important points… One: Livestock owners need to be aware that rabies can transfer from one species to another so they should monitor their property for skunks, and two: local veterinarians are a valuable resource to help owners decide the best course of action to protect their animals from rabies.” – State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr 

Two skunks have tested positive for rabies in El Paso County. Other counties with confirmed rabid skunks (at least one) are: Arapahoe, Broomfield, Cheyenne, Denver Elbert, Las Animas, and Morgan; Jefferson County alone has found 14 rabid skunks. Overall, a total of 37 animals have tested positive for rabies in Colorado, including one bat, a coyote, and one fox.

The health department wasn’t specific on where exactly these skunks were found in each county — but, if you live in one of these areas, or just in general, take these CDPHE-suggested precautions to avoid rabies with your livestock or pets. The health department says no people are believed to have been exposed to rabies, but they are urging residents to take all possible precautions.

  • Be sure your pets and livestock are vaccinated.
  • Be aware of skunks out during the day.
  • Be aware of areas that can be a suitable habitat for skunks — under buildings or piles of wood and under stored equipment.
  • Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Make sure your children know to stay away from wild animals. Avoid leaving pet food outside.
  • Contact your vet right away if any of your animals have been bitten or scratched by a wild animal, particularly skunks, bats, foxes, or raccoons.
  • If your animals exhibit any dramatic behavioral changes, contact your vet as soon as possible. Isolate and avoid contact with these animals if possible.
  • Rabies vaccination should be considered for horses, breeding livestock, cattle, or other livestock that are housed where skunks may live.
  • If you have to remove a dead skunk from your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool. Also, double-bag it for the trash. Do not directly touch the skunk with your bare hands.

If you’re in one of the listed “skunk zone” areas, keep an extra eye out while taking any walks with the pups and maybe keep your indoor-outdoor cat inside for a while. For those with livestock and horses, be sure to carefully inspect their stables and get their appropriate shots! The only thing worse than getting sprayed by a skunk is getting sprayed and rabies.

An illness called strangles has affected 80 Westernaire horses and ponies.