The City of Portland’s Animal Control Department is warning residents not to approach or interact with wildlife after two raccoons and a fox captured in the area this week tested positive for distemper.
While not a threat to humans, the distemper virus can affect unvaccinated dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife. The infected animals were caught at Sunset Lake and near Causeway Drive and East Bayview in the Olde Town neighborhood.
“The best way to prevent distemper in your companion animals is to vaccinate,” City of Portland Animal Control Officer Debra Engel said. “There is no known cure for this disease. We strongly urge pet owners to contact their family veterinarian about vaccinating pets for the distemper virus.”
Distemper is a contagious and serious viral illness in animals. It causes coughing, tremors, and seizures in raccoons and other wildlife, and causes them to lose their fear of humans. The distemper virus can be spread through the air and by direct or indirect contact with an infected animal.
Those animals affected by the illness show symptoms similar to rabies including fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, as the virus attacks the nervous system, infected animals develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches and convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation.
Residents encountering wildlife exhibiting these symptoms should move away from the animal and call Portland Animal Control at 361-777-4444.