Rabid Skunk Attack in Kiowa County


Kiowa County Residents Cautioned About Skunks with Rabies


Prowers County Public Health and Environment is urging citizens of Kiowa County and all of SE Colorado to avoid any unnecessary contact with wild animals, especially any that appear to be sick or behaving in an unusual manner. A skunk and an unvaccinated dog in eastern Kiowa County were involved in a fight the week of February 6, 2012 and the skunk was immediately located and submitted for testing; public health officials were recently notified that the skunk tested positive for rabies.  As the pet in this incident was unvaccinated, it unfortunately had to be euthanized.  This further stresses the importance of keeping all pets current with their rabies vaccinations.     

Since June 2007, when a rabid coyote attacked a Prowers County resident at their home in eastern Prowers County, the incident of rabies in skunks and other wildlife has been on the increase in eastern Colorado, including Prowers County. Jackie Brown, Director of Prowers County Public Health and Environment stated “there is concern that skunk rabies circulating in the area does increase the potential for spill over infections into other wildlife, domestic pets and livestock. It is important to be aware that there is rabid wildlife in the area and to know what to look for and what to do if you encounter a possibly rabid animal.”  

Signs that wildlife may have rabies:

  • Wild animals which seem to be friendly, tame or show no fear of people
  • Nocturnal animals – coyotes, foxes, bats, skunks, and raccoons – that are active during the day
  • Animals that appear to be “drunk” – staggering movements while walking
  • Skunks attacking other animals – cows, goats, dogs, etc.

Signs that cats and dogs may have rabies:

  • Changes in normal behavior – a shy dog becoming aggressive or a friendly dog becoming withdrawn
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or drinking
  • Animals that appear to be “drunk” – staggering movements while walking
  • Paralysis
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Excess salivation and choking sounds like something is stuck in their throat.

Signs that livestock my have rabies:

  • Excessive drooling and abnormal swallowing
  • Constant or abnormal vocalization and/or appear to be choking
  • Abnormal posture and wobbliness in the hindquarters, difficulty standing or walking
  • Unexplained aggressiveness


What to do if you encounter a potentially rabid animal:

  • Do not approach or attempt to handle a live animal
  • Keep children, pets, and livestock away
  • If a person or animal is bitten contact local animal control or the county public health office immediately
  • In order for an animal to be tested for rabies the brain must be intact (i.e. don’t shoot animals in their head). Do not handle the carcass without waterproof gloves. Use a shovel to place the carcass in a plastic bag. 
  • If you encounter a potentially rabid animal call 911.  


It is extremely important that ALL pet owners have their pets vaccinated against rabies and keep them current to protect both the pets and the families that they live with.  Prowers County Public Health and Environment issued a “Mandatory Rabies Vaccination Order” June 21, 2007 requiring all unvaccinated cats and dogs in Prowers County to be vaccinated for rabies immediately by a licensed veterinarian.  That order has been continued and will be in effect until further notice.  The city of Lamar also requires that all cats and dogs are current with rabies vaccinations.  

To report emergencies or sick or abnormally behaving animals, citizens should call the appropriate Emergency Dispatch office in their county by dialing 911. General questions about animal or wildlife behavior may be directed to the Lamar office of the Colorado Division of Wildlife at 336-6600. Questions about rabies and its related impacts on human health should be directed to Prowers County Public Health and Environment at 336-8721. For more information go to: http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/dc/zoonosis/rabies/index.html


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