ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — This spring, the Erie County Department of Health has received reports of wild animals that show signs of canine distemper, a disease that can have series effects for you dogs.
Canine distemper is an incurable virus that is often fatal to dogs. Dogs that do recover usually have nervous system damage. Mammals like skunks and raccoons infected with distemper can exhibit some of the same symptoms as rabies: stumbling while walking, wandering aimlessly, showing no fear of humans and acting aggressively.
Any vaccinated pet that encounters a known or suspected rabid animal must receive a booster vaccine within five days.
The ECDOH reminds residents to avoid touching wild animals. “Any bite from an animal or exposure to its saliva should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and water as soon as possible, and medical attention should be sought immediately,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “All animal bites should be reported to our Division of Environmental Health at (716) 961-6800, and we recommend post-exposure rabies treatment for anyone bitten by certain wild animals that are not captured.”
Once a disease like distemper is introduced to a wildlife population it is very difficult to eliminate.
Tips For Protecting Your Pets and Family from Wild Animals
· Warn children to stay away from wild animals and to alert an adult if they see one in a private yard.
· Do not feed wildlife; avoid overfilling birdfeeders and clear food sources and debris from yards to avoid attracting wildlife.
· Vaccinate dogs, cats and ferrets for rabies and other diseases as recommended by a veterinarian.
· Be cautious about socializing puppies and unvaccinated dogs at parks, dog day care settings and in public.
· If you choose to destroy a wild animal yourself, use a method that will not damage the head or expose you to saliva or nervous tissue. DO NOT TOUCH the animal at any time without using rubber gloves or a plastic bag.
Erie County offers free rabies vaccination clinics each spring and fall to make sure as many dogs, indoor and outdoor cats and ferrets are vaccinated against that deadly disease.