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Pet and livestock owners in Colorado cautioned about rabid skunks

Staff Writer |
So far this year, 34 rabid skunks have been confirmed in nine Colorado counties.

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The Colorado Department of Agriculture reminds pet and livestock owners that rabies is a deadly disease that can spread from skunks to other mammals and vaccination is the single best method to protect pets and livestock.

“The Department of Agriculture would like to stress two very important points,” said State Veterinarian, Dr. Keith Roehr.

“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.”

Rabies or suspicion of rabies is a reportable disease in Colorado. Even if rabies has not been diagnosed, practicing veterinarians need to call the State Veterinarian’s Office at 303-869-9130 to report suggestive clinical signs of rabies.

If it is after-hours, our office phone message will indicate which staff veterinarian is on call.

Rabies is a viral disease in mammals that infects the brain and nearly all cases result in death. The clinical appearance of rabies typically falls into two category types: “aggressive” and “dumb.”

Aggressive rabies symptoms include combativeness and unusual aggressive behavior such as biting.

There is also a “dumb” form of the disease in which the animal is lethargic, weak in one or more limbs, and unable to raise its head or make sounds because its throat and neck muscles are paralyzed.

Rabies is spread primarily through the bite of rabid animals, resulting in the spread of the disease through their infected saliva. Once symptoms of rabies infection appear, no cure exists and it is virtually always fatal.

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