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| Raccoon Distemper|
Next to humans, the second leading cause of death of raccoons is distemper. Raccoons are susceptible to infection by both canine and feline distemper. Although they both can cause acute illness and death, they are caused by two completely different viruses. Canine Distemper is a a highly contagious disease of carnivores caused by a virus that affects animals in the families Canidae, Mustelidae and Procyonidae. Canine distemper is common when raccoon populations are large. The virus is widespread and mortality in juveniles is higher than in adults. Feline distemper, also called feline panleukopenia, catplague, cat fever, feline agranulocytosis, and feline infectious enteritis, is an acute, highly infectious viral disease affecting members of the Felidae, Mustelidae and Procyonidae.
Signs and Symptoms
Canine distemper in raccoons starts slowly, initially appearing as an upper respiratory infection, with a runny nose and watery eyes developing into conjunctivitis (the most visible symptoms). As time wears on, the raccoon can develop pneumonia. The raccoon may be thin and debilitated and diarrhea is a clear symptom. In the final stage of the disease, the raccoon may begin to wander aimlessly in a circle, disoriented and unaware of its surroundings, suffer paralysis or exhibit other bizarre behaviour as a result of brain damage. Many of these symptoms are indistinguishable from, and therefore often mistaken for, the signs of rabies which can only be determined by laboratory testing. Raccoon distemper is cyclical and can spread and wipe out entire colonies of raccoons. The disease is transmitted through airborne droplets, direct contact with body fluids, saliva or raccoon droppings. Feline distemper usually begins suddenly with a high fever, followed by depression, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, and a profound leukopenia. The course of the disease is short, rarely lasting over one week, but mortality may reach 100% in susceptible animals. Feline distemper virus is shed in all body secretions and excretions of affected animals. Fleas and other insects, especially flies, may play a role in transmission of the disease
No treatment exists for canine or feline distemper (thereby increasing the need for prevention and control). Infected raccoons are usually euthanized. Control of distemper outbreaks includes the removal of dead animals' carcasses, vaccination of at-risk domestic species to decrease the number of susceptible hosts, and a reduction in wildlife populations which also reduces the number of potential hosts. The canine distemper virus is inactivated by heat, formalin,and Roccal R. Disinfection of premises with a dilution of 1.30 bleach will help to reduce spread.
Unvaccinated dogs and cats that are allowed to wander unattended are at risk of infection from, as well as posing a risk of infection to, raccoons and other wildlife. Humans are not at risk from distemper as the disease cannot be passed on to people and presents no danger to humans. Dog and cat owners should make sure their pets have been vaccinated for the disease. Owners of pet ferrets should have their animals vaccinated against canine distemper which is fatal in ferrets. Wildlife rehabbers should quarantine any new rehabs until they get a clean bill of health and should have the animals vaccinated against both canine and feline distemper.
Vaccination (and Manufacturer)
Canine Distemper: Fervac-V™ (United Vaccine) or Duramune 5 Way® (Ft. Dodge) or Recombitek C-4™ (Rhone- Merieux) or Distemink® (United Vaccine)
Feline Distemper or Panleukopenia: Fel-o-vax LVKIII® (Ft. Dodge) or Felocell CVR® (SmithKline Beecham), a modified live vaccine has also been used in raccoons.
NOTE:All my rehabs receive vaccinations by my vet against both canine and feline distemper before they are released back into the wild. For the protection of ALL the animals, I urge all rehabbers to insure that there charges are vaccinated before they are released and for pet owners to keep their dogs and cats up to date on ALL shots.
Canine and Feline Distemper in Wildlife: Michigan DNR Rose Lake Lab
FAQs about Pet Vaccines: Mar Vista Animal Medical Center
Wildlife Vaccines: Wildcare Publications
Anything hereinbefore or hereinafter to the contrary notwithstanding, we are neither medical doctors nor veterinarians and do not practice medicine or give medical advice. While we are licensed rehabbers through and with a wildlife rescue group comprised of all volunteers, this website is our own personal undertaking. Any suggestions presented here are NOT intended as medical or technical advice and is the result of our own experiences or information gathered from various sources, veterinarian experiences, autobiographies of raccoons we have known, and personal opinions formed from these experiences and information. It is NOT intended to take the place of medical, veterinary or professional consultation or common sense. Do not fold, spindle or mutilate. Dry clean only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information (or any spelling errors not found by spell-check). This information is being posted in good faith, as a public service, with no commercial interruptions, in cinemascope, with the belief that people will gain useful knowledge and benefit from it. No warrantees or guarantees are implied or expressed, no refunds or exchanges without original dated sales receipt and applicable shipping and handling fees, and The Gable's Raccoon World and this author shall not be liable or responsible for anyone relying upon the contents hereof, or anyone hereof contented upon lying. Printed on recycled bytes. Any additions or corrections to the information contained here is most welcomed.