Even though skunks do not pose an immediate threat to humans, there are some risks that must be considered if a skunk is residing nearby. These wild animals do carry some diseases that can be transmitted, not only to humans, but to pets as well. By learning how to avoid a skunk bite or an altercation with these mammals, it is important to know how to deal with them without putting people or pets in danger.
Skunks have the ability to transmit diseases in different ways and if you are dealing with a skunk problem, you will want to know this important information. Most skunks prefer to flee when they are encountered, but if they become trapped or cornered, they will attack and can bite and scratch. This is how some diseases can be transmitted. There is also the chance that zoonotic diseases can be passed through the urine of a skunk or when people or pets come in contact with feces. Interestingly enough, no diseases are transmitted when a skunk sprays.
There are some cases where a skunk will attack and in many cases, when the animal is finally caught, it tests positive for rabies. Not every skunk is rabid, but if anyone is bitten it is essential to be tested as soon as possible and start treatment if necessary.
Diseases People Can Catch
In addition to rabies, there are some other conditions that can be contracted from contact with a skunk. There are two major conditions that people need to be aware of.
- Tularemia is one, where the person will have various symbols including fever and sepsis, which will occur within 3 to 5 days after a bite or contact with feces.
- Leptospirosis is a condition that is contracted when in contact with feces and can produce severe headaches, muscle pains and high fevers. Some cases can lead to meningitis and even kidney failure.
One of the main concerns of pet owners is the spray from the skunk, but there are other concerns that need to be known as well. Skunks can transmit canine distemper and this can cause many ill effects such as inflammation of the eyes, vomiting and fever. This is often transmitted when the pets are in contact with skunk feces and urine. Many skunks also carry parasites, such as ringworm and roundworm, both of which can be transmitted easily to domestic pets.
Most of the diseases carried by a wild skunk can be transmitted to humans and pets, but there is one condition that seems to only affect skunks. Aleutian disease is caused by a string virus that will affect most systems in the body and can lead to complete organ failure in the infected animal. Since there are some dangerous conditions, people need to be aware of the location of any skunks and avoid contact whenever possible.