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Rabies Confirmed in Brighton Skunk

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Rabies Confirmed in Brighton Skunk

Tri-County Health Department has confirmed that a skunk collected on a private property in Brighton was infected with rabies. The property is in northern Adams County, just south of Weld County. An astute veterinarian, Dr. Evan Dowdy of Horizon Veterinary Clinic, recognized that the skunk could have rabies and collected it for testing. There was no known animal or human exposure to the skunk.



“This rabid skunk in Adams County, along with several others identified over the last few years, confirms that rabies is endemic in skunks in the Front Range and Eastern Plains,” states Richard L. Vogt, MD, Executive Director of Tri-County Health Department. “When rabies spreads from skunk to skunk, the risk increases for people, unvaccinated pets and livestock.”

This is the second rabid skunk detected in Adams County since the emergence of skunk variant rabies in Colorado in 2007. The first rabid skunk confirmed in Adams County was in May 2010, found in a rural, eastern portion of the county, just south of Morgan County.

 Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals, and is nearly always fatal. The virus is shed in the saliva of infected animals. People or animals can get rabies from the bite of a rabid animal or from a rabid animal’s saliva if it comes in contact with their eyes, nose, mouth or open wounds. Immediate medical treatment is required after exposure to an infected animal.

 “Skunks do not hibernate over the winter, so this rabies case is a good opportunity to remind people that having dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies is an easy and effective way to protect pets and humans from this deadly disease. We encourage the owners of horses, cattle and other livestock to consult with their veterinarians regarding rabies vaccination for those animals,” Vogt adds.

To prevent exposure to this virus, skunks and other wildlife should not be handled or fed. A healthy animal usually will avoid human contact.

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