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Compared to other species such as rats and raccoons, skunks are actually a relatively low risk when it comes to the range of diseases that the animals can transmit, but it is still vital that you are cautious around such animals. There are several different ways in which skunks can transmit diseases, and these range from bites and scratches through to contaminating food and drink, and even transmitting disease through their feces and parasites. Here are a some of the conditions that can be carried by skunks.
- 1. Rabies
This is probably the biggest concern for those who are coming into contact with a skunk, and it is a condition that is usually transmitted by a bite or a scratch that breaks the skin of the individual. Bear in mind that skunks who are carrying the disease in its active phase will show signs such as foaming at the mouth and a serious aversion to water, while some rabid skunks may also be active at unusual times of the day, particularly during the daytime.
- 2. Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is a condition that is transmitted through the feces of many different mammals, and generally it is the greatest risk when you are cleaning out having dealt with a skunk infestation. When the feces is disturbed, the leptospirosis spores can become airborne, and if they are inhaled they can cause a range of respiratory diseases, swelling of the brain and even death in some extreme cases.
- 3. Intestinal Roundworm
These parasites are usually transmitted if a food source or drinking water is contaminated by the skunk, but in some cases these may be transmitted to pets which then pass them on to people they come into close contact with. The symptoms can cause a high temperature and a cough, while diarrhea is also a known symptom. It is usually treated with a short course of medication that will kill the roundworm, which is then passed naturally.
- 4. Diseases From Ticks And Lice
Even after the skunk has died, it can still transmit diseases to other beings that come close to it, and it is particularly worth wearing protective clothing when dealing with a carcass, as ticks and lice on the skunk may be waiting for a new host to get close enough. Diseases that can be transmitted in this way can include Lyme Disease and a range of other conditions that are harmful to humans and domestic animals alike.
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Skunk disease: The most common disease skunks are known for is rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system. Animals that are afflicted often have balance issues, are unnaturally friendly, have mood swings, exhibit excessive salivation, and have nystagmus—rapid movement of the eyeball. If you see a skunk that is behaving abnormally, stay away from it. In fact, a good general rule when it comes to wild animals is to stay away from them. There is nothing wrong with a healthy respect for nature. Though skunks can carry rabies, the majority of the population is healthy else the species would eventually become extinct. While a healthy skunk might seem innocent, they do still carry a host of external parasites. While these parasites—fleas and ticks and mites—won’t hurt you on their own, they can be the vessels for potentially dangerous diseases. Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis are all tick borne diseases that can affect people. Believe it or not, the plague which wiped out a third of the European population was transmitted through fleas carried around on rats. While the fleas on skunks won’t carry the plague, you should still be mindful of their bites.