Humane Society reports increased number of raccoons with distemper

Thu, 09 Oct 2014

Canine Distemper does not pose health risk to humans

The Oakville & Milton Humane Society (OMHS) is reporting a higher than normal number of cases of raccoons suffering from Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in the Oakville area. So far this year, the OMHS has received 300 cases of raccoons exhibiting signs of this illness, up from the average 130 cases per year.

Canine Distemper is a viral disease affecting animals in the canine families, in addition to some other mammals, affecting their respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Raccoons are pre-disposed to Canine Distemper but it poses no health risk to humans.

Raccoons exhibiting the signs of Canine Distemper will move slowly and may appear to stumble as they walk. They are very passive and may wander aimlessly showing no response to noise or people but may become aggressive if cornered. Often a mucus discharge is present around the eyes and nose which may be accompanied by coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, tremors and seizures.

“These poor animals suffer greatly with the virus and unfortunately it is almost always lethal to them,” said Laura Mackasey, Manager of Animal Protective Services for the Oakville & Milton Humane Society. “The best we do for them is to humanely and compassionately end their pain.”

Canine Distemper can be transferred to dogs if they come into contact with an infected raccoon. Most dogs are vaccinated against distemper as puppies. If you do not know if your dog has been vaccinated against distemper, check with your veterinarian. It is important to keep your dog on a leash when on walks and to check backyards before letting dogs out.

Even though the Canine Distemper Virus is not transmittable to humans, it is important to remember not to approach a raccoon at any time as they may become aggressive if cornered. To discourage raccoons or any wildlife from coming onto your property, do not leave any food out. At this time, it would also be advised to take down any bird feeders, ensure all garbage, recycling and GreenCarts are secure and left out on the morning of your regular pick up, and explain to your children why they should not approach raccoons or any wildlife animals even if they seem docile.

If you see a raccoon exhibiting any of the signs of Canine Distemper Virus, contact the OMHS at 905-845-1551. This line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please be sure to include the time and location of the sighting so that OMHS officers can attend and safely remove the raccoon.

The Oakville & Milton Humane Society and the Town of Oakville are working together to ensure residents, schools and veterinarians are informed. For more details on Canine Distemper Virus, visit the OMHS website. The Town of Oakville has a list of frequently asked questions on their website. Visit the raccoons page for more information.

Media contact:

Brenda Dushko
Manager, Fund Development & Communications
Oakville & Milton Humane Society
905-845-1551, ext. 19
905-208-0295 (mobile)
brenda@omhs.ca

Town of Oakville contact:

Mary Jo Milhomens
Senior Communications Advisor
Town of Oakville
905-338-4244
maryjo.milhomens@oakville.ca