Saturday, October 4, 2008

Manistee County Reports Canine Distemper in Wild Animals

compiled from The Ludington Daily News and Chicago Tribune, "Distemper outbreak discovered in Manistee County", Oct 1, 2008, and other sources

Within the past month eight foxes and six raccoons have been discovered with canine distemper in Manistee County, Michigan. The diseased animals have been put down.

Residents have reported the animals appearing in their neighborhoods, foaming at the mouth and acting erratic and lethargic. Raccoons are nocturnal, so daytime sightings are suspicious. When the animals are observed to act oddly, one should look for other signs of disease. Infected animals were also found at a local golf course.

In addition to raccoons and foxes, skunks and dogs are susceptible to the viral infection. Dogs that are up to date on their shots will have been vaccinated. The virus is transmitted primarily through respiratory secretions, and is quite contagious. If your dog runs outside, and has not been vaccinated you should be aware that you are putting your pet at risk. Canine distemper is incurable, so puppies are routinely immunized since the development of a vaccine in the 1960's.

It is possible for humans to develop a mild case of distemper. However, anyone who has been immunized against measles, or who has had measles is immune since the viruses are related.

The Michigan DNR has confirmed the disease in at least two of the diseased animals.

If you observe a fox, raccoon, skunk, or dog appearing too weak to stand or walk, walking in an unsteady manner, and/or foaming at the mouth, call 911.

See Animal Health Channel- distemper
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