Distemper spreading in raccoon population

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

Staff at the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre deal with all kinds of animals in distress, including raccoons.
But this year they say “distemper” has been particularly bad in the region …. and has even migrated into urban areas like Kingston.
Darryn Davis has more on what to look for ….. and what dog owners should do to protect their pets.

Another phone call and another wildlife issue for Sue Meech the head of the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre to deal with.
But the one issue on the forefront of her mind is distemper in the raccoon population.
“Usually we only get one or two raccoons that are brought in, we hear of one or two cases out there, but this year we’re getting one or two almost every day. ”
Meech says what is really worrying her is it appears the disease has moved into urban areas like Kingston.
“There’s more raccoons in the city than there are in the country per square kilometre so there’s going to be an even bigger out break in downtown Kingston.”
Symptoms can include seizures, difficulty getting around like they’ve been injured.
They may also appear to be unafraid of humans or lethargic.
“You need to call us we’ll tell you how to confine it safely and then we’ll either get a driver to pick it up or you can bring it to us.” dog owners also need to be wary because their family pet can get the disease from the raccoons.
“This is Callie and she’s up for adoption here at the humane society, just as important though is she has had her distemper shots.
Staff at the society say if you’re unsure if your pet has been vaccinated for distemper it’s worth a call or making an appointment with your veterinarian.”
Humane Society staff say the best time to vaccinate your dog is when it is a puppy.
“Starting at 4 to 6 weeks of age and then you have to booster those vaccines every 2 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old and then after that you’re looking at annual vaccines.”
And vaccination is the only sure fire way to protect your pet.
If a dog does get distemper the options are limited.
“Antibiotics to treat any secondary infections fluid therapy, hospitalization and that definitely is the best chance for the dog but unfortunately sometimes it can be fatal.”
Even pets that survive distemper can have ongoing health issues afterwards.
Darryn Davis CKWS news Kingston.

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