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'Zombie-like' raccoons reported in Northeast Ohio could put your beloved pets at risk

Posted at 8:38 AM, Mar 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-06 08:38:07-05

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Raccoons with canine distemper have been recently been reported in Northeast Ohio and they could put your pets at risk.

Cases of strange acting raccoons have been reported in Northeast Ohio and recent evaluations by the Highland Heights Police Department have confirmed that some raccoons may have acquired canine distemper.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health was notified in January by Highland Heights police that their office received several calls about strange acting raccoons.

Police responded to calls and found several raccoons acting in a strange manner. Two raccoons were tested for rabies by the United States Department of Agriculture—Wildlife Service. Tests results came back negative.

The raccoons displayed symptoms of distemper, which include wandering aimlessly and an emaciated appearance.

The viral disease can infect your dog if it comes in contact with an infected raccoon or ingests contaminated material.

Typical symptoms of canine distemper include coughing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia.

The viral disease is often fatal and dogs that survive usually have permanent and irreparable nervous system damage.

Dogs owners are encouraged to make sure their dogs are vaccinated because a simple vaccination can prevent premature loss of your family pet.

Canine distemper is a naturally occurring disease in wildlife such as foxes, coyotes and raccoons. The virus is transmitted to other animals by inhalation and infected animals can shed the virus for up to 90 days.