LAFAYETTE – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) have received a growing number of reports of raccoons being infected with the canine distemper virus.
From Lafayette to the North Shore of New Orleans, more and more raccoons are being reported to have the distemper virus; but according to Dr. Jim LaCour, this is nothing out of the ordinary.
Explains LaCour, the state wildlife veterinarian for LDWF, “We’re just in one of those high points right now where we’re seeing some canine distemper affecting raccoons predominately, but also some foxes and coyotes.”
Luckily, humans can’t catch distemper. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get hurt. When infected, animals often show some of the signs that would normally indicate rabies.
“Being in-coordinated, circling, salivating,” some of the signs according to Dr. LaCour, “They may not be afraid of people and we really recommend that the public does not approach these animals.”
The virus spreads through respiratory secretions and bodily functions such as saliva, which means pet owners should err on the side of caution.
“If they could feed their animals inside or pick up the bowls as soon as the animals eat and drink, that would reduce contact with saliva from the infected animals,” says LaCour.
This is especially true if your dog has not received their annual vaccinations, one of which being for the distemper virus.
“If someone has a dog that is not vaccinated, they should get the vaccines,” continues LaCour, “And if they have been vaccinated and it’s been greater than six months, they probably outta look at getting them boostered.”
These outbreaks are usually caused by a higher population of raccoons. True to the circle of life, this virus will knock the population back down to normal levels.