Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) is asking residents to keep an eye on their pets after a skunk in the area tested positive for rabies.

According to a press release from BCPH, a local recently noticed a skunk acting strangely on their property. They discovered that the animal had died on Monday (Aug. 23) and sent it to the health department for testing.

The test came back positive for rabies. Health officials weren't surprised by the result, as skunks are one of the disease's top carriers in Colorado. Although BCPH doesn't believe the skunk came into contact with humans or other animals, the agency still wants residents to remain vigilant — especially with domestic pets.

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"Making sure rabies vaccinations are up-to-date for dogs, cats, horses and livestock is the most important and effective way to protect both animals and humans from contracting rabies," said Carol McInnes, an environmental health specialist with BCPH, in the release. "Sadly, pets with no rabies vaccination that come into contact with a rabid animal may need to be euthanized or placed in a four-month quarantine at the owner's expense."

Humans and pets can contract rabies through bites and scratches from an infected animal. In some cases, like with bats, the bite is barely noticeable (so if you're around a bat...go to the doctor).

To avoid exposure to rabies, BCPH recommends practicing the following tips:

  • Do not interact with unfamiliar animals, even if they are domestic.
  • If you or a pet is wounded by an animal, thoroughly wash the wound with soap and water. Go to the doctor immediately.
  • Stay up-to-date on your pet's vaccinations.
  • Keep cats and ferrets indoors. Supervise dogs outdoors.
  • Teach children not to interact with wildlife.
  • Keep pet food away from wildlife.
  • If in contact with or bitten by a wild animal, contact BCPH to set up rabies testing.

Learn more about rabies here or by calling BCPH at (303) 441-1564.

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