Take precautions with rising number of infected raccoons

With increased reports of raccoons infected with distemper in Southeast Louisiana, animal owners are being advised to take special care to avoid attracting wild animals near residences.

Jena Troxler, supervisor of the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter, said they’ve received occasional reports of abnormal behavior with raccoons that includes being out during the day with a decreased fear of humans. These animals also show malaise, and the best protection is to be proactive.

But animals infected with parvovirus or distemper are a particular concern for unvaccinated dogs.

Troxler warned that an unvaccinated animal bitten by rabid wildlife requires a six-month quarantine or euthanasia.

To discourage wild animals coming to a residence, Troxler offered some tips.

“It is vital to close garbage and not leave out more cat food than can be eaten in 19 minutes,” she said. “Otherwise, one draws out the wildlife and changes behavior by increasing activity, which is a recipe for disease transmission.”

In Southeast Louisiana, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has received more reports about raccoons infected with distemper, primarily from Lafayette to the Florida Parishes in southeast Louisiana.

Distemper is a virus that infects raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks and unvaccinated dogs.

The disease is spread among susceptible animals through direct contact with body fluids or droppings from an infected animal, according to LDWF. The best prevention for dogs is to make sure they are vaccinated. Contact a veterinarian to make sure your dog’s shots are current.

Symptoms of distemper may include discharge from the nose and eyes, a rough coat of hair, seizures, coughing, emaciated appearance and unusual behavior such as disorientation or wandering aimlessly. The animals’ symptoms will become progressively worse and the disease is usually fatal.

Distemper is not the same disease as rabies although some symptoms are similar. LDWF advises that children and pets be kept away from sick raccoons and other wildlife. Even though the animal may appear calm, they can become aggressive if approached too closely.

LDWF also advises to discourage raccoons from surroundings to remove what attracts them and feed pets indoors. If feeding outdoors, bring in feed bowls right after pets have eaten. Secure garbage cans so they can’t enter them to feed, and don’t feed them intentionally that could attract more of them and spread the disease.

What is distemper?

  • Distemper causes symptoms such as seizures, which can increase the chances of a bite when close to these animals.
  • If an animal is seen acting abnormally around humans, call animal control.
  • The disease is spread in droplets to dogs. Vaccination is essential.


About Anna Thibodeaux 2071 Articles
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