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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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  • Those infected Raccoons show pretty much the same symptoms as the local junkies! They need to be “put down” too.

    Friday, 13 April 2018, 8:01 am
  • Yes, thank you Tom.

    Friday, 13 April 2018, 5:33 am
  • I have dispatched 2 with in days of each other 3 weeks ago. Health Dept. tested one and it was Distemper. These 2 came from the Masaryktown area.

    Friday, 13 April 2018, 1:16 am
  • Excellent reporting Tom. stuff like this is why we need you buddy. Great job!

    Thursday, 12 April 2018, 11:24 pm
  • Thank you for the alert. Can you please tell us what area the other 2 raccoons were at?

    Thursday, 12 April 2018, 10:46 pm
  • If you have a pet it is your responsibility to keep them current on their vaccinations

    Thursday, 12 April 2018, 10:15 pm
  • Thank you for the news. Some of us do pay attention.

    Thursday, 12 April 2018, 9:24 pm

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