Animal Care reports outbreak of distemper, posing threat to dogs

Long Beach animal care officials reported Thursday an outbreak of distemper, a viral infection, among 38 raccoons and one skunk—which can pose a threat to dogs that might come in contact with these animals.

In addition to dogs, the infection poses a threat to raccoons, skunks, foxes and large cats such as lions and tigers. It is not a threat to cats or humans.

Dogs can become infected with the distemper virus from direct contact with a sick animal or from being near an infected animal when it is coughing or sneezing, officials said in a press statement.

The virus can also be transmitted through shared food and water bowls, or other objects that were contaminated by an infected animal. Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at highest risk for infection with distemper.

Common signs of distemper in dogs include discharge from the eyes and/or nose, fever, coughing, lethargy, disorientation, tremors and seizures.

“Currently there is no treatment for distemper, so preventing the disease in dogs is crucial,” the statement said.

Pet owners should ensure their pets are vaccinated for distemper, which occurs when they are 2-4 months old. Puppies should be kept at home until they are vaccinated, officials said.

Officials also advise keeping dogs away from wildlife, and keeping pet food and water indoors.

More information can be found here.

Residents should report suspected distemper cases to the Long Beach Veterinary Disease Reporting System at longbeach.gov/vdrs to allow for local data collection and sharing with Los Angeles County.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that puppies should be vaccinated at age 2-4 months, not years. 

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