Canine Distemper Outbreak Affects Raccoons Locally

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POINT PLEASANT BEACH – Officials warn residents to be aware of any unusual behavior in raccoons as an outbreak of canine distemper has affected several in the areas of Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant and Bay Head.

Canine distemper is a “contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). “The virus can also be found in wildlife such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, mink and ferrets and has been reported in lions, tigers, leopards and other wild cats as well as seals.”

The virus can be transferred through animal coughs and sneezes, shared food and water bowls, and animal equipment, according to AVMF.

Symptoms of the virus include discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, convulsions, circling behavior, paralysis and hardening of the footpads, according to AVMF.

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Those with puppies under four months old or dogs that have not been vaccinated should be aware that these animals have a higher risk of contracting the disease. As the outbreak has been spotted in local raccoons, officials warn residents to keep an eye out for unusual raccoon behavior, such as being outside during the day.

Residents should contact police if they see a raccoon acting abnormally; pet owners should ensure their animals are up-to-date on vaccinations.

So far, five raccoons have been euthanized in the borough due to the outbreak according to Point Pleasant Beach officials.