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Wildlife Agency Warns About Sick Raccoons in Chesterfield

A rising number of cases of "canine distemper" is being reported in Chesterfield, Wild Horse Creek and Wildwood. The disease doesn't affect humans or cats, but can be dangerous to dogs.

Have you noticed raccoons in your neighborhood acting strangely? The Bi-State Wildlife Hotline is reporting an uptick in the cases of "canine distemper" among raccoons in Wild Horse Creek, Chesterfield and Wildwood area and is warning residents to take precautions. 

The Bi-State Wildlife Hotline is a non-profit organization that assist the public in dealing with sick, injured and orphaned wildife. in an email to Patch, Hotline Director Angel Wintrode explained what to look for. 

These raccoons are sick with a canine disease called ‘distemper.'  It causes an animal to have severe brain swelling which makes them act as though they are drunk, walking in slow motion, stumbling, out during the day wandering aimlessly, and often dragging their hind end along with them not using their back legs properly.  The animal may also have yellow discharge from their eyes and a lot of nasal drainage as well, but not always. 

These animals are not aggressive but they do not run away from people or dogs either, making it a fairly high risk situation for residents, their children and their pets.  Distemper is contagious to dogs – not people – and that is where our main concern lies.  We want to make sure that the area residents are aware of this outbreak so that they can check with their veterinarian to ensure that their dogs are up to date on their distemper vaccinations.  Cats cannot get this disease, and neither can humans. 

Many of our callers are concerned that the raccoon has rabies when they see it out during the day and while that is remotely possible in raccoons, the state of Missouri has not had a reported case of rabies in raccoons in over 60 years.  It is much more likely that the animal has distemper opposed to rabies.  I’m hoping that you can assist us in trying to get the word out to residents to please check on their dog’s vaccinations and keep an eye out for sick raccoons.  If they do come in contact with a raccoon that looks sick we are always available to help with that. 

Residents can reach us 24 hours a day by calling (636) 492-1610.  We are a not-for-profit organization that requests donations when we make house calls like these, especially considering these cases require us to humanely euthanize the animal which costs our organization roughly $20 per animal.  However in comparison to the hundreds of dollars that a pest control company would charge, our requested donation is not normally something that residents have any complaints about. 

For more information, visit the Hotline's website or contact them direcly by calling (636) 492-1610. 

Hank October 01, 2012 at 02:45 PM
I believe this story comes out of the fact that the good folks at Bi-State Wildlife recently found at least 1 raccoon with distemper in our neighborhood {Wildhorse/Greystone}. We are grateful to them for their fine work and persistence (they had to make around 5 visits before capturing the suspect).

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