BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A skunk tested positive for rabies after spraying a dog last week in Lafayette. Residents found the skunk dead in their backyard and contacted animal control officers who notified Boulder County Public Health.

The resident reported their dog was sprayed by the skunk before the skunk died. Health officials say the dog was already vaccinated against rabies and is currently under a 45-day home observation.

BCPH says rabid skunks have become a “significant source” of rabies across eastern Colorado and the Front Range. Raccoons and foxes can also carry the disease, which can spread to pets.

“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 Marshall Lipps, BCPH environmental health specialist. “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.”

BCPH released the following recommendations to reduce the risk of exposure to rabies:

  • DO NOT handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. Contact Animal Control to collect the animal.
  • Thoroughly wash any wound caused by an animal with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Keep vaccinations current for all dogs, cats, ferrets and horses.
  • Maintain control of pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
  • Teach children to leave wildlife alone.
  • Do not leave pet food or livestock feed in areas that are accessible to wildlife.
  • If a person or pet has been bitten by or has had contact with a skunk or any wild animal, seek medical care immediately, and then contact your local animal control agency or Boulder County Public Health to arrange for rabies testing.

For more information about rabies, visit BoulderCountyVector.org or call 303-441-1564.