NCSD warning folks to be sure and vaccinate pets and also be on the lookout for raccoons.
The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and Town of Lewiston Police Department are recommending the community to be on high alert after identifying multiple cases of distemper in raccoons in Niagara County. There have been more than 90 calls of sick raccoons since January 1st and the primary area of outbreak appears to be Northwest Niagara County, in particular the Towns of Porter and Lewiston. There have been no reported cases in the City of Niagara Falls.
Raccoons can be infected by both canine and feline distemper. Although they both can cause acute illness and death in the raccoons, they are caused by two completely different viruses. Canine Distemper is a highly contagious disease of carnivores caused by a virus and is common when raccoon populations are large. Feline distemper is an acute, highly infectious viral disease.
Canine distemper in raccoons starts slowly, initially appearing with a runny nose and watery eyes. In its final stages, the raccoon may begin to wander aimlessly in a circle, disoriented and unaware of its surroundings. The animal may exhibit other bizarre behavior as a result of brain damage.
Feline distemper in raccoons begins suddenly with a high fever, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. The course of the disease is quick, usually a week with nearly 100% mortality. Insects may play a role in the transmission of the disease.
Prevention: Unvaccinated dogs and cats that are allowed to wander unattended are at risk of infection. 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.
According to the Niagara County Health Department, the last positive test for rabies in the county was October 20, 2016. In 2017, 145 samples were tested and all were negative. In 2018, there have been 18 samples tested so far and all were negative for rabies.