Distemper In Raccoons: What Should You Do If You See A Rabid Raccoon?

Shirin Biswas
Feb 29, 2024 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Nov 09, 2021
Know all about racoon distemper and how to handle it.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 4.9 Min

Canine distemper is a disease that all dog parents know of.

However, other wildlife canines, such as raccoons, may also get infected by the virus. Raccoons with distemper are visibly sick, so you should be able to save your own pets from infected animals.

If you have been wondering if you should feed this wildlife species while it has distemper infection, the answer is no. Feeding infected raccoons puts you and your vaccinated dogs at risk of contracting the virus. Furthermore, since the virus is contagious and airborne, there are hardly any chances of physical defense against the virus other than maintaining distance from infected wildlife. Keep reading to know how you and your family can be safe from canine distemper!

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not also check out why do raccoons wash their food and how to get rid of raccoons.

Canine Distemper Transmission In Raccoons

Canine distemper, in animals such as dogs, raccoons and skunks, is a disease that is airborne and communicable. This essentially means that the transmission of the disease takes place when droplets containing canine distemper virus (CDV) travel through the air and enter the respiratory system of another animal. This disease is also cyclical and highly contagious, which is why hundreds of raccoons in the same city may get completely wiped out due to this deadly virus.

The canine distemper virus may also be transmitted through saliva, mucus, and the droppings of an infected animal. Hence, it is advised that pet owners take care of their dogs when such a virus seems to be on the rise among the raccoon population around their house!

Is distemper in raccoons contagious?

A raccoon with distemper can easily transmit the virus to other canine animals. Hence, it is always advisable that pet owners scan their surroundings when symptoms of distemper virus infection are on the rise. When your dog visits any place where raccoons with distemper infection have already been, the virus is easily transmitted through the infected animal's droppings, mucus, and saliva. While there is no completely safe and guaranteed way of ensuring that no distemper virus enters the system of your dog through its surroundings, making sure that no infected raccoons are anywhere near serves as the first step towards safety.

Can humans get distemper from animals?

Canine distemper is a disease that affects canine animals such as pets and some mammals. However, the virus does not tend to spread to human beings. Even if the virus does spread to humans in some way, it is generally much less fatal and the human being is likely to come out of the fever and diarrhea in sound health.

While it may appear that you are safe from the grip of this aggressive virus, the best thing to do is to ensure that raccoons are discouraged from entering your house or backyard. Make sure to never leave any food unattended. In case some raccoons around your house do appear to have a runny nose or vomiting tendencies, understand that the animal is sick and help it by calling your local Humane Society.

What are the symptoms of a raccoon with distemper?

A raccoon with distemper is likely to show signs that are easily misunderstood as rabies. In fact, the symptoms may appear to be so similar that only pathological testing can discern between rabies and canine distemper. If you see a sick raccoon and wonder if it is distemper, look out for symptoms such as seizures, a runny nose, runny eyes, gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, an aggressive nature, or even a disoriented demeanor. In case any of these symptoms do occur, make sure to call a Humane Society nearby and lock all the gates around your house!

Diarrhea is one of the tell-tale signs of this fatal infection and is generally combined with seizures which can be quite painful.

It is not advised to feed animals showing canine distemper.

Can a raccoon survive distemper?

Raccoons with distemper run an extremely high risk of dying. While it may be difficult to accept, it is impossible for the health of these animals to recover once the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems have been compromised. Since canine distemper virus also affects the brains of these wildlife animals, there is no way that they are able to be brought back to full health.

Causes And Cures Of Distemper In Raccoons

Much like in the case of rabies, this disease has no effective cure. The cause of the spread of this virus, on the other hand, is not specific to any species. It is estimated through research that it was a dog that initially got infected by this virus and eventually spread it to other wildlife.

If you have a dog at home, it is essential that it gets a distemper vaccination shot regularly so that neither your pet nor any other pets that it comes into contact with get infected.

What should I do if I spot a sick raccoon?

If you spot a sick or disoriented raccoon, the chances are that you will not be able to understand which disease has been affecting it. This is because both in dogs and raccoons, rabies and distemper have the same symptoms. The best thing to do would be to deliver the animal to safe hands. You may call the wildlife department in your city. Every city also has its own Humane Society, which can be contacted.

Can anything be done to help raccoons?

Since there is no cure for the disease, the raccoon will have to be euthanized. This can be done by the wildlife department of your city, and the body of the animal can be buried. You may call on either the wildlife department number or the Humane Society number. Euthanizing the animal negates any risk of spreading the virus to humans or dogs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'Distemper in raccoons' then why not take a look at 'Can you have a raccoon as a pet?' or 'Raccoon dog facts'?

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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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