Zoonosis are illnesses that can be transmitted from animal to human. This is the main reason it is so important to turn over any and all orphan skunks found to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible, and not keep one for a pet. Once a person or home becomes infected with any one or more of these conditions it can be very difficult and costly to resolve the problem.
The most serious condition that can be transmitted from skunks to humans is rabies. Not all skunks carry the rabies virus, they have to be infected with it. However, any living thing infected with rabies will die from it. The picture below is of a rabid skunk. Notice the hunched up body posture, the unkempt fur, the lopsided gait. He appears as if drunk.
This orphan had fly eggs packed so tightly into her entire mouth she could not close it.
The pictures above are of a litter that came in covered with fly eggs. In less than a few hours they would have hatched into maggots that would eat into their flesh & organs.
Some less serious health concerns to humans are parasites such as ticks, fleas, mites, lice, roundworms, and fly eggs or maggots. These nasty little things may or may not be readily visible to an untrained eye. If left untreated on the animal they can ravage an orphan in a matter of days, especially an infant. Or more slowly and miserably, in weeks. They will also infest your carpets, furniture, clothing, bedding and other pets, as well as you. Anyone with children likely knows how difficult it can be to get rid of a lice infestation. Keeping cute orphans as pets puts your family and home at risk for contracting these blood sucking, flesh eating pests. It also risks the orphans health as it will not survive long if badly infested with some of these hideous pests.
Fly eggs stuck on the fur may not be recognized by someone not looking for it. It won't be long before those eggs turn into nasty, gnawing maggots. Chances are there could already be maggots internally that can do a lot of damage to an orphan if not treated quickly.
Another condition skunks may have is a fungal skin infection better known to us as athlete's foot, or ringworm. There are many different kinds and many different treatments. This is a very difficult condition to treat in skunks, hard to get rid of, and it is contagious to we humans. Left untreated in the skunk it will cause major hair loss and peeling skin with sores that toughens and wrinkles in time. A wild skunk left untreated would conceivably die in time with a balding body and extreme skin problems.
All of these skunks have fungal skin infections.
This orphan above has a pox virus.
Roundworms are a very common parasite in wild skunks. It is safe to assume that all skunks have them. When the roundworm eggs are passed in the stool they infect the environment. Other pets and children can become infested and if left untreated can become very ill, and even cause death in extreme cases. Doing a fecal exam on skunk stool is misleading because the eggs may not always show up in the stool sample, giving a false negative reading.
If you are considering keeping the orphan you found as a pet you need to think twice, especially if you have children in the house. These health conditions may not be noticeable right away on the orphans, and by the time you start to see symptoms you will have likely already been infected yourself. In the best interest of your family, home and the skunks' health, it is best to turn over all of the orphans to a wildlife rehabilitator.