‘Zombie Raccoons’ are nothing new in El Paso

News

There have been reports about so-called “zombie” raccoons across the country. The zombie description refers to the way the infected raccoons walks and shows their teeth.

It’s just a new term for canine distemper. It is highly contagious and can kill your dog.

In the El Paso region Dr. Ken Waldrup, the Regional  Zoonosis Control Veterinarian for the Texas Department of State Health Services, tells KTSM it’s the gray foxes that are most impacted.

“We always have canine distemper. We have good years and bad years it’s always here,” said Dr. Waldrup.

The canine distemper virus can impact a variety of animals including raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and domestic dogs. He said it does not impact humans but you should not approach the animal.

If you see a sick animal call Animal Services because it may be hard to distinguish distemper from rabies.
 
Symptoms for distemper can include:

eye and nose discharge
sneezing
coughing
lethargic
vomiting
diarrhea
tremors

Dr. Waldrup also said nocturnal animals usually out during the day are more than likely sick because distemper can impact the brain.

The veterinarian said the best prevention is making sure your dog is fully vaccinated.

“We can’t do much about the disease in wildlife. The disease is in the environment. The main tool we have to use for our domestic dogs of course is vaccination,” Waldrup said.

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