The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has received an increased number of reports about raccoons infected with canine distemper, primarily from Lafayette to the Florida Parishes in southeast Louisiana.
According to LDWF, distemper is a virus that infects raccoons, foxes, coyotes, skunks and unvaccinated dogs.The disease does not affect humans. It is more likely to occur when raccoon populations are large or concentrated.
The disease is spread among animals through direct contact with body fluids or droppings from an infected animal. Vaccinations for dogs can stop the spread of the disease.
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. It is not the same disease as rabies.
LDWF advises that children and pets be kept away from sick raccoons and other wildlife.
LDWF recommends that people remove attractants from yards and feed pets indoors. If you feed outdoors, bring in feeding bowls right after pets have eaten. Be sure to secure garbage cans so they can’t be knocked over or have their lids removed and do not feed raccoons
Agents say that providing artificial food sources may lead to unnaturally large concentrations of animals and increase the spread of disease.
For more information, go to http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/wildlife/nuisance-wildlife