This article is 6 years old. It was published on September 22, 2017.
There have been reports of raccoons exhibiting signs consistent with canine distemper virus in the City of St. Louis .
Raccoons with distemper may approach people, or curl up to sleep in open areas in close proximity to people. They generally act disoriented or lethargic but can become aggressive if cornered. They may also have seizures.
Canine distemper does not pose a threat to human health. Dogs not vaccinated for distemper can become infected if they come in contact with a raccoon with distemper.
If residents notice a raccoon displaying abnormal behavior between the hours of 8:00 am-5:00 pm Monday-Friday, they should call (314) 622-4800 to make a report with the Citizens’ Service Bureau. Before 8:00 am, after 5:00 pm, or on weekends, call (314) 231-1212 to report animal-related emergencies.
What is Canine distemper?
Canine distemper is a viral disease affecting animals in the canine families in addition to some other mammals. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Raccoons are pre-disposed to this disease, as are dogs. It also commonly infects skunks. The disease is most often fatal, and those that recover may display permanent neurological damage.
Can humans catch canine distemper?
No. Humans cannot get canine distemper.
Can my dog catch canine distemper?
Yes, if your dog has not been vaccinated against distemper, and comes in contact with a raccoon with distemper. Most dogs receive vaccinations as pups against distemper, and regular booster shots may be given. If you are not sure your pet is up-to-date, check with your veterinarian. Puppies not yet vaccinated are at particularly high risk. To protect your pet, it is best to keep your dog on a leash when on walks and scan your backyard before letting your dog outside.
What are the symptoms of a raccoon with distemper?
Raccoons with distemper may move slowly and may stumble as they walk. They lose their fear of humans; appear blind, confused, and may wander aimlessly; and may become aggressive if cornered. A mucous discharge will often be present around the eyes and nose and may be accompanied by coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors, seizures, or chewing fits. They may only exhibit some of these symptoms and otherwise appear quite healthy.
What should I do if I see a raccoon that I think has distemper?
Do not approach them. Do not feed them.
Call the Citizens’ Service Bureau at (314) 622-4800 between the hours of 8:00 am- 5:00 pm Monday-Friday to make a report. Before 8:00 am, after 5:00 pm, or on weekends, call (314) 231-1212 to report animal-related emergencies.
Should I feed the raccoons?
No. Do not feed raccoons or leave food out for them. Any food left out may only attract other wildlife, or attract sick raccoons to areas where pets frequent. Calling the Department of Health through the Citizens’ Service Bureau at (314) 622-4800 is the best thing to do for affected raccoons.
What else can I do?
- Do not to keep or treat raccoons as pets.
- Do not feed raccoons.
- Do not leave pet food outside
- Make bird feeders spill proof and ensure that raccoons cannot get to them.
- Store garbage in cans with lids that lock tightly.
- Cover sandboxes so they do not become raccoon latrines.
- Remove drinking water sources for raccoons and other standing water.
- Seal all access points to your house and any other buildings nearby, including basements, attics, and sheds.
- Canine Distemper
- Bi-State Wildlife Hotline - Raccoons
- Missouri Department of Conservation - Distemper disease
Department of Health
Pets and Animals
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