VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Animal Control says officers have seen a noticeable increase in cases where raccoons have been reported to be acting abnormal.
In fact, last year from January to May, 45 sick raccoons were euthanized.
This year, 146 sick raccoons have already had to be put down.
Because of that jump, several animals have been tested. Six have already come back positive for rabies. All of the raccoons reportedly tested positive for canine distemper virus — which can affect dogs and ferrets, as well as wildlife including raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and skunks. The virus has no known cure.
Animal control said symptoms in dogs with canine distemper can vary, but most dogs develop upper respiratory signs or fever. Some dogs can get severe and sometimes fatal pneumonia.
In some cases, dogs can develop “severe and often fatal” neurologic signs like seizures one month after the respiratory infection.
According to animal control, the signs of canine distemper in wild animals are considered to be indistinguishable from rabies. Residents can guard their dogs against both viruses through vaccination.
Last year only four raccoons tested positive to rabies in Virginia Beach.