Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

November 6, 2012

1:35 AFTERNOON UPDATE: Raccoon tests positive for distemper

Special report
Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Glasgow Police advised local media and citizens a few weeks ago about possibly ill raccoons in the city limits exhibiting behavior that would suggest rabies contamination. While tests on these raccoons were negative for rabies, the latest raccoon to be sent was tested for both rabies and distemper. Again, the rabies testing was negative, however, it was positive for distemper, which mimics rabies. We can only operate at this point on speculation which would lead us to think the raccoons that previously tested negative for rabies, may very well have been sick with distemper.

Next to being killed by humans, the second leading cause of death in raccoons is distemper, a virus that spreads easily among animals. A raccoon with distemper will display many signs associated with the rabies virus, however, it's not possible to tell the difference without viral testing.

The first signs of distemper in a raccoon are respiratory symptoms. It's eyes and nose will have a lot of discharge, eyelids may be crusted over and it may cough and have trouble breathing. Gastrointestinal symptoms will follow including vomiting and diarrhea and then it continues to the neurological system with symptoms that mimic being drunk, aimless wandering,unsteady on their feet and even seizures. Raccoons are mentally unstable at this point in the illness and may suddenly become aggressive without warning or provocation.

Another sign that may indicate any type of illness in a raccoon is their presence during the daytime hours as they are a nocturnal species.

It's important to remember to never approach any animal that is acting out of their character. A sick animal is usually very passive. Don't approach the animals. Please educate children about dealing with possibly ill animals domestic or wild.

Since distemper is easily transferred between animals, it’s important to make sure pets are vaccinated against it.

Anyone who notices a raccoon with any of the aforementioned symptoms or behaviors, contact Animal Control through the Glasgow Police Department by calling 651-5151.