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Infected Stouffville raccoons may be lethal to dogs
Spotted near Main Street school
March 15, 2016
Ali Raza

They’re infected, aggressive and show disoriented behaviour.

No, it’s not The Walking Dead, but it is a cause for concern as several raccoons carrying the canine distemper virus have been reported in Stouffville, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville warns.

The virus may be lethal to dogs that aren’t vaccinated. It affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of canine mammals such as dogs, raccoons and skunks. Cats and humans though have nothing to worry about, as it is not transmittable to them.

A rise in aggressive behaviour – a common symptom of the virus – was reported since January among local raccoons. Disorientation, seizures and other bizarre behaviour are also symptoms. Infected raccoons are more likely to approach people and sleep in public places.

“It is very important that residents who encounter raccoons showing bizarre behaviour be very cautious,”  Whitchurch-Stouffville animal control officer Connie Arnone said in a media release issued by the town.

Dogs can be infected upon contact with a raccoon. The virus can be transmitted through runny noses, teary eyes, urine or feces. The town urges dog-owners to keep their pets leashed, vaccinated and licensed to avoid any issues.

The most common area of reported cases is in eastern Stouffville, south of Main Street and east of Memorial Park. There have been some reported cases of property damage caused by raccoons, but no reports of injuries.

Cases have been reported in the Thicketwood Boulevard area and around Summitview Public School.

“We expect the number of cases of canine distemper in the area to remain level or possibly increase over the coming months," Arnone said.

To avoid any incident with infected raccoons, do not approach them, do not feed them and keep all garbage and recycling securely stored. Close off open areas and keep garage doors shut to avoid domestication of raccoons.

If you see an infected raccoon, call animal control services at 1-855-898-8605.