Distemper is a virus commonly found in raccoons and is the number one cause of natural death in raccoons. The distemper virus is related to the measles virus that occurs in humans; both adult and children. Raccoons that have distemper are commonly mistaken for having the rabies virus and knowing the difference isn’t possible without blood tests on the animal. The distemper virus spreads fast among animals, so if you notice a raccoon with possible distemper keep your pets as well as your children away.
Respiratory distress symptoms are the first signs that a raccoon or other animal may have distemper. Raccoons will have mucous like discharge coming from their mouth, eyes, and noses; often with a crusted appearance. Some raccoons cough and because of dried mucous, many will have trouble fully opening their eyes.
Distemper also affects the gastrointestinal track of a raccoon or infected animal. Raccoons will vomit and have diarrhea even when they aren’t eating. Because of this raccoons will become dehydrated and lose weighted. This part of the distemper disease process is what causes the next set of symptoms.
The most noticeable symptoms of the distemper virus are the last to set in. Neurological problems will occurs when the disease process is coming to an end and causes the raccoon to come out of hiding and in the middle of the day. Raccoons at this phase of the virus will have seizures that affect the entire body, are more aggressive, and will attack without being provoked or warned that they are there.
Call a local wildlife rehabilitation center if you notice a raccoon that is acting strange. Animal control officers will be sent to your home to capture and remove the animal from the area; especially if it is a residential area with many pets and children so the disease does not spread.