(2/5/19) A viral outbreak of canine distemper in South Louisiana is causing wild animals to lose their fear of people, according to Dr. James LaCour, Louisiana’s state wildlife veterinarian.
LaCour said the Wildlife and Fisheries Department is monitoring an outbreak of the virus from the Florida Parishes to Lafayette.
According to the agency, the disease is spreading among raccoons and is often fatal. Some people describe the animals as walking in a stupor, or zombie state. LaCour said people reporting the animals often think they are infected with rabies. He said the symptoms are similar but said canine distemper cannot be transmitted to humans. There is concern for area pets, which can contract and spread the disease, he said.
LaCour is encouraging pet owners to have their pet vaccinated against the distemper virus. He said the shot requires an annual booster and can be received along with the annual rabies vaccine.