On 12/6/2013, a wild raccoon from Fairfax County tested positive for Canine Distemper. Why is this a concern? Distemper is highly contagious; it is not treatable and many dogs die from this disease. Early symptoms include: thick discharge from eyes and nose, sneezing andor coughing, fever, poor appetite, vomiting and/or diarrhea. These symptoms can occur with other illnesses, too.
As well as dogs, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes are susceptible to canine distemper. A wild critter with distemper may be visibly stumbling and have lost it’s fear of humans. Both of these symptoms are also seen with Rabies in wildlife.
How to protect your dog from this disease? Make sure their Distemper vaccine (DAP, DHPP, or DHLPP) is up to date. Not sure about your dog’s vaccine status? Check with your veterinarian ASAP. If your dog needs vaccines or vaccine boosters, it can take weeks or even months before they are as protected as we’d like them to be!