We have had a rash of reported sick acting raccoons and fox and the police department has had to dispatch many of them. As of July 1, 2010 we have had to dispose of raccoons.
I spoke with a vet and they are almost positive that it is the canine distemper virus causing the sickness. Infected animals appear disorientated, walk in circles and in general appear to no longer be afraid of humans. The primary carriers of this virus in our area of the country is raccoons and fox. The vet also mentioned that this virus peaks every 7-8 years so outbreaks are not totally uncommon, we have just not dealt this many for some time.
Since this it is believed to be the canine distemper virus it will not affect cats. It is generally passed from animal to animal through feces (eaten or walked through) or it is possible through a bite (saliva). When a sick animal is killed it is recommended that the animal be buried where it cannot be disturbed or put in a bag and thrown away since it is possible that a dog could mess with it and become infected. Protective gloves should be worn any time a potentially infected animal is touched and put in a bag that can be sealed. Animals can be brought to the incinerator for disposal free of charge.
Precautions should be taken not to get near these critters since they are unpredictable and to make sure and have dogs up to date with distemper shots. Let’s hope that this virus runs its course soon.
Chief of PoliceRed Wing Police Department(651) 267-2610