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Two dogs in northeastern Colorado have tested positive for rabies after run-ins with rabid skunks. The two separate incidents, in Weld and Yuma counties, are the first reported cases of rabies in canines the state has seen in over a decade, The Denver Post reports. Tragically, neither dog had a current vaccination for rabies, and both needed to be euthanized.
Since these incidents, dogs and humans connected to the infected animals have had to take precautions.
In the Weld County case, the infected puppy came in contact with four other dogs and six people in Weld, and five others outside the county. According to a statement from the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment, “Colorado State University lab testing on May 10 confirmed rabies in the puppy and the dogs and people are receiving post-exposure preventative rabies treatment.” The four dogs will be monitored over the next 120 days to ensure their health and safety, as well as those around them.
Humans and animals alike can be infected by rabies—a virus that attacks the nervous system—with potentially deadly consequences for both. Dr. Mark E. Wallace, executive director of the Weld County Health Department, warned that a person’s exposure to rabies increases when their pet is not vaccinated.
Rabies in dogs—which is transmitted from the disease carrier through saliva—is a severe, fast-moving virus that can cause fever, seizures, paralysis, pica, aggressive behavior, frothy saliva, and inability to swallow, among other symptoms.
“The best protection against rabies is to avoid contact with wild animals and keep your pets vaccinated,” Wallace stated. “If your pet is too young to be vaccinated, do not allow it to be outside unsupervised.”
If you suspect your dog has been infected with rabies, immediately call your veterinarian.