When a rabid fox was found hit by a car on July 20, it marked the first time El Paso County Health has documented a land animal with rabies found west of Interstate 25.

Shannon Rowe, the communicable disease program manager for the health department, said the find has different significance than cases in which rabid animals were discovered in the eastern parts of the county.

According to Rowe, animals such as foxes and skunks which tend to get terrestrial rabies could come in contact with humans and their pets more frequently in the wildland-urban interface near the mountains. She said many people take their animals onto trails and into the forest where wild animals roam.

Health officials advise people to make sure pets are vaccinated, cease any feeding of wild animals and teach children not to approach or play with wild or strange animals.

Rabies is transmitted from bites or saliva from infected animals. The disease causes brain swelling and damage. The disease is "almost always fatal," health officials said.