Raccoon Distemper Cases Rising in North Texas

Wild raccoon looking for food | Image by jadimages/Shutterstock

The City of Carrollton is urging residents to protect their animals in the wake of rising distemper cases among raccoons in North Texas.

Carrollton Animal Services announced on Tuesday that it and the North Texas Wildlife Center have taken note of an increasing number of raccoons demonstrating symptoms consistent with the canine distemper virus.

“Canine distemper is a virus with a high mortality rate that affects both the respiratory and nervous system[s] of dogs, ferrets, and raccoons. Though it cannot be spread to humans, distemper is easily spread from raccoons to dogs through the environment and via airborne exposure, such as sneezing and coughing,” reads the press release.

Puppies under four months old and unvaccinated dogs are particularly at risk with symptoms of the disease including lethargy, vomiting, seizures, and partial or complete paralysis, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. There is currently no cure and no approved antiviral drugs.

Infected raccoons demonstrate similar symptoms, however, an added effect is the apparent loss of fear for people.

“Symptoms of distemper in raccoons include being active in daylight hours and acting friendly or passive before developing a fever, convulsions, and seizures. Infected raccoons are often seen wandering around listlessly or curled up quietly in residential areas,” reads the release.

Residents are advised to keep trash in bins, keep pets on a tight leash when walking outside, avoid any wildlife, and remove pet water and food bowls from outside. Pet owners are also advised to not allow their pets to consume food or water from community bowls.

While there is no cure for the disease, the distemper/parvovirus vaccine is recognized as an effective prevention method.

Carrollton Animal Services & Adoption Center will be hosting low-cost vaccination events this month and next month. The first of these will be held on February 18 and another on March 16, both of which will feature distemper vaccinations.

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