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Distemper outbreak suspected in north coast raccoons

December 14, 2010


TILLAMOOK, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating a probable outbreak of canine distemper affecting raccoons along the north coast from Seaside to Astoria.

Over the past two weeks authorities have received numerous complaints about sick and injured raccoons presenting symptoms consistent with canine distemper. During that time police and commercial wildlife control operators have disposed of about 10 raccoons that exhibited such symptoms.

“We definitely have an outbreak going on here,” said Dan Smith, owner of Clatsop County Wildlife Control, a commercial wildlife control operator. “This is getting to be a daily thing.”

Canine distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that infects raccoons, coyotes, skunks and unvaccinated dogs. The disease does not affect humans. Symptoms may include discharge from the nose and eyes, a rough coat of hair, emaciated appearance and unusual behavior such as disorientation or wandering aimlessly. The symptoms become progressively worse and the disease us usually fatal. Animals affected by canine distemper can be unpredictable and therefore potentially dangerous, according to Dave Nuzum, assistant wildlife biologist with ODFW’s Tillamook office.

People who see a raccoon that is acting abnormally are advised to keep a safe distance and call the police, a commercial wildlife control operator or ODFW. They should not feed the animal or try to administer any medications, should make sure their dogs are vaccinated for distemper and remove any food sources that might attract raccoons. Feeding raccoons is highly discouraged because it can concentrate animals and facilitate the spread of disease.




Dave Nuzum  (503) 842-2741
Rick Swart  (971) 673-6038

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