Domestic Pets at Risk After Several Raccoons Test Positive for Deadly Virus
HERNANDO – In recent months, Pasco County Health Officials have posted warnings to residents about the discovery rabid animals in certain areas. So far, Hernando County Officials have not posted rabies alerts, but another deadly and incurable disease has struck the area and is threatening a number of wild and domesticated animal.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Canine Distemper (CD) is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. But domestic canines aren’t the only animals susceptible to contracting the disease.
Florida has a number of wild carnivorous animals, like foxes, wolves, coyotes, skunks, and raccoons – all of which can contract CD.
According to Denise Moloney with the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Deputies have had three encounters with infected raccoons in just the last two days that were all humanely euthanized. In at least one, if not all cases, the deputy was forced to shoot the animal on the spot to prevent it from escaping and further spreading the disease.
Moloney says after the first two raccoons were tested by Hernando County Animal Services, the third raccoon and others from this point forward will be euthanized and buried at the scene, rather than transporting them back to Animal Services.
The AVMA says CD is transmitted through airborne exposure, like sneezing, coughing, or sharing food and water bowls.
The AVMA says Raccoon outbreaks in local populations can signal increased risk for pets living in the area.
Initial symptoms are watery pus-like discharge from the eyes. Nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting may follow. The later stages attack the nervous system and cause the animal to walk in circles, tilted heads, and muscle twitching. The disease is almost always fatal and those animals that do survive, suffer irreparable nerve damage.
Experts suggest keeping up with vaccinations and avoid gaps in immunizations schedules.
The images below were provided by a resident in the Plantation Estates Subdivision, where a Raccoon was euthanized and buried on the property.
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