Published Date: 2012-03-10 19:34:59
Subject: PRO/AH> Canine distemper, wildlife - USA (07): (AL) raccoon
Archive Number: 20120310.1066814
CANINE DISTEMPER, WILDLIFE - USA (07): (ALABAMA) RACCOON
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 9 Mar 2012
Sick raccoons in Mobile likely suffered from distemper
MOBILE, Alabama -- A majority of sick raccoons captured in Mobile in recent months have not tested positive for rabies and have likely been infected with distemper, a viral infection that is often fatal to domesticated animals such as dogs and cats, wildlife officials said on Friday.
Since mid-November, more than 450 sick raccoons have been captured by the city of Mobile's Animal Shelter and sent for testing, said Dana Johnson, a biologist with the United States Department of Agriculture.
So far, Johnson said, none of the raccoons has tested positive for rabies. Johnson received results on Friday that showed an overwhelming majority of samples of the raccoons captured in Mobile tested positive for distemper. Typically, a pet with up-to-date vaccinations should be protected from contracting diseases such as distemper, said Christopher Barr, a veterinarian at Theodore Veterinary Hospital. Barr said those whose pets have come in contact with a sick animal, such as a raccoon, should take the pet to a vet, where they may get a booster to help protect against distemper.
Distemper is a fatal disease that often strikes domesticated dogs and cats. In recent months, Johnson sent samples of raccoons collected in Mobile to labs at Cornell University in New York to confirm the distemper diagnosis. Results from the first batch arrived on Friday, with 19 of 20 animals testing positive, Johnson said.
Meanwhile, sick raccoons -- some acting lethargically, some walking around in circles -- continue to be captured by animal control in Mobile. "It doesn't seem to have slowed down a bit," said Ellen Lursen, who leads the City of Mobile Animal Shelter. "At this time, we respond to any sick, injured animal in the city limits. We have also picked up a few foxes. They were very sick-looking, very ill."
Mobile residents who see sick raccoons can call the city Animal Shelter at 251-208-2800, or dial 311, the city's action line.
[byline: Casandra Andrews]
ProMED-mail from HealthMap alerts
[Viral diseases of raccoons include rabies, canine distemper, raccoon parvoviralenteritis, infectious canine hepatitis, and pseudorabies. Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is endemic in many raccoon populations.
Canine distemper virus infection is probably the commonest viral disease in raccoons. The clinical signs and gross and histopathologic lesions in raccoons are similar to distemper in dogs. Neurologic signs due to distemper virus infection in raccoons are virtually indistinguishable from rabies induced neurologic disease. Diagnosis is based upon histopathologic lesions in brain, lung, spleen, and small intestine. Intranuclear and intracytoplasmicinclusion bodies can be visualized in many cells including epithelial cells in the respiratory epithelium, gastric mucosa, and transitional epithelium lining the renal pelvis and urinary bladder. The best tissues for fluorescent antibody testing and virus isolation of canine distemper virus are lung, brain, stomach, small intestine, kidney, and urinary bladder.
In wild carnivores (yes the raccoon is in that order), the presenting signs are often neurological and the disease must be differentiated from rabies and other encephalitides. Other diseases which may mimic distemper include tularemia, listeriosis, Chastek's paralysis (in captive mink and fox), histoplasmosis (raccoons), and poisonings.
Portions of this comment were extracted from http://www.addl.purdue.edu/newsletters/1997/fall/raccoon.shtml and http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/1,1607,7-153-10370_12150_12220-26505--,00.html
Mobile, Alabama may be found on the interactive healthmap at http://healthmap.org/r/1ZeI. - Mod.TG]