Sick raccoons prompt Canine Distemper warning from the city
Virginia Beach Animal Control officials have received and responded to a noticeably elevated number of cases over the last three months, in which raccoons have been reported to be acting abnormally and possibly sick. About the same time, the city's health department has reported a drastic increase in rabies in raccoons; along with rabies in a fox and a domestic cat.
Additionally, Animal Control's veterinary staff has worked in conjunction with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to test a select few raccoons displaying unusual behavior and they all tested positive for the canine distemper virus.
The signs of rabies and distemper in wild animals are recognizable, so if you see a wild animal behaving abnormal it is extremely important to leave it alone and call Animal Control at 757-385-5000.
Canine Distemper is a serious contagious infectious disease with no known cure. It is caused by a virus that affects dogs, ferrets and other wildlife including: raccoons, coyotes, foxes and skunks.
Distemper is a serious virus. Contact your local veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has been infected. Dogs are routinely vaccinated for this disease so it is important to make sure that your pet stays up-to-date on its vaccinations.
The signs of distemper in dogs vary depending on the dog's age, health and immune status. The majority of dogs develop upper respiratory signs and fever. Some of these progress to severe and sometimes fatal pneumonia. Vomiting and diarrhea may also be present. Severe and often fatal neurologic signs, including seizures, can develop approximately one month after the respiratory infection.
Distemper virus is shed in greatest numbers in respiratory secretions, such as eye and nasal discharge, and by droplets which can travel up to four feet from a sneeze or cough; however, all excretions including vomit, feces, and urine, can contain the virus.
Direct or close contact between dogs is the most common way it is transmitted. Common disinfectants are effective at neutralizing the virus.
The best way to protect your dog from Rabies and Distemper is to get them vaccinated. If you have concerns, consult your veterinarian for more information.
Meghan Conti is a Virginia Beach Animal Control supervisor.