Rabid skunks reported in county

Rabid skunks have been found in El Paso County for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Three rabid skunks have been reported in northern El Paso County so far this summer.

Kandi Buckland, director of the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment, said that the health department has been tracking the number of rabid skunks in the state for the past few years, and predicted that rabies would be a problem again in El Paso County.

“Now, more than ever, we urge pet and livestock owners to ensure that their animals are vaccinated against rabies, and for parents to remind their children to avoid feeding, petting or touching wildlife,” Buckland said.

Rabies is a viral disease in mammals. It infects the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, causing brain swelling, damage and death. It is spread through bites from rabid animals, and also can be spread when saliva from an infected animal gets into open wounds and cuts. It also can enter through the membranes of the eyes, nose and mouth.

Within the first 72 hours after infection, medication is available — but no cure exists once symptoms appear .