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Misreporting Rabies_ Spotting Canine Distemper in Raccoons

Dealing with wildlife is common in areas close to nature, especially in most residential and commercial areas in Ontario. Although these animals can be minding their business, they pose a major threat to people's health and safety.

Raccoons are fond of shuffling through trash and foraging for food in unlikely places. Some people even find raccoons as nature's petite wildcats, even if they're technically closer to bears than cats or dogs. However, these wild animals can be a dangerous presence next to your home.

Differentiating rabies and canine distemper

Raccoons are among the many wild animals that can carry rabies and other serious illnesses. They can pass it on to an unsuspecting pet or a human trying to drive them away. Although rabies is a more common medical illness from rabid animals, they can carry another similar condition that's equally dangerous and lethal. Like rabies, canine distemper is also a fatal viral disease. However, it attacks the respiratory and gastrointestinal system instead of rabies' approach of targeting the brain and nervous system.

Canine distemper and rabies generally only have one identical symptom, which is high fever. Since canine distemper targets the respiratory and gastrointestinal system, its symptoms include the following:


  1. Coughing

  2. Vomiting

  3. Diarrhea

  4. Extreme thirst

  5. Lethargy

You'll also experience eye inflammation, laboured breathing, loss of appetite, seizures, and even abnormal behavior. It's vital to recognize these symptoms since these will also infest in carriers of the disease like raccoons.

Understanding Ontario's case of rabies and canine distemper

There has been a steady rise in cases involving Ontario's raccoon populations. Back in 2016, over 171 confirmed rabid raccoons led to 86 rabies cases. With the raccoon population steadily growing per year, the risk of experiencing rabies or getting infected by rabies and canine distemper also increases. Even without raccoon population numbers, the SPCA notes that there are almost 50 to 100 canine distemper cases per month in every district. Additionally, a spike in cases peaks during mid-winter and early spring when raccoons are active.



TDealing with canine distemper in raccoons

Similar to rabies infections, contracting canine distemper has no cure for raccoons. Thankfully, some treatments prove to be effective in some dogs. However, even ongoing treatment still puts them at a 50% mortality rate due to the disease's lethal nature. Raccoons with canine distemper have no chances of getting vaccinated or treated. This is why they undergo extreme pain as the disease progresses in its symptoms. For this reason, it's only proper to euthanize them before they can spread the disease further.

Unlike rabies that's spread through saliva, canine distemper can transfer from a host to another through bodily fluids or animal droppings. If you own a dog, it's best to get it vaccinated to prevent them from suffering severe symptoms. Try to avoid thick and bushy areas that can be home to raccoons. Keeping a clean lawn generally mitigates the risk of inviting raccoons over to your property's borders.



Although canine distemper isn't a major crisis, statistics note that it can be dangerous to wildlife communities and even residential neighborhoods. If you spot a raccoon that displays symptoms of canine distemper, it's best to contact your local pest control and wildlife removal experts for safe extraction.

With over 25 years of industry experience, ICE Humane Wildlife Removal & Pest Control can handle any kind of pest in residential and commercial areas. If you need immediate raccoon removal at Caledon and nearby regions, book us now at 416-246-2256.


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