Virginia Beach Animal Control warns of recent Canine Distemper Virus outbreak

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Beach Animal Control is warning citizens about an outbreak of the canine distemper virus after a several raccoons tested positive.

Over the past three months, an increased number of raccoons acting abnormal have been reported to and responded to by Virginia Beach Animal Control.

Meanwhile, the health department has reported a drastic increase in rabies in raccoons, along with cases of rabies in a fox and a domestic cat.

Veterinarians at Virginia Beach Animal Control, along with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, tested some of the raccoons that were acting abnormal and they all tested positive for the canine distemper virus.

Animal Control says the signs of rabies and distemper in wild animals are indistinguishable, so if you see a wild animal behaving abnormal it is extremely important to leave it alone and call them at 757-385-5000.

Canine Distemper is a serious contagious infectious disease with no known cure. It is caused by a virus that affects dogs and ferrets, as well as some wildlife including: raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and skunks.  Distemper is a serious virus. Please contact your local veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has been infected. Dogs are routinely vaccinated for this disease so it is important to make sure that your pet stays up-to-date on its vaccinations.

The signs of distemper in dogs vary depending on the dog’s age, health and immune status. The majority of dogs develop upper respiratory signs and/or fever. Some of these progress to severe and sometimes fatal pneumonia. Vomiting and diarrhea may also be present. Severe and often fatal neurologic signs, including seizures, can develop approximately one month after the respiratory infection.

Distemper virus is shed in greatest numbers in respiratory secretions such as ocular (eye) and nasal discharge as well as droplets spread by coughing; however, all excretions including vomit, feces, and urine can contain the virus. Direct or close contact between dogs is the most common way it is transmitted. Droplets can travel up to four feet from a sneeze or a cough. Common disinfectants are effective at neutralizing the virus.

The best way to protect your dog from Rabies and Distemper is to get them vaccinated. If you have concerns, please consult your veterinarian for more information.