'Zombie raccoons' test positive for distemper - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

'Zombie raccoons' test positive for distemper

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

The Youngstown City Health District says that several dead raccoons have been tested for distemper after reports that they were "acting strange". 

According to the Youngstown City Health District, about half a dozen raccoons were tested for distemper and came back positive for the disease. 

Officials say five raccoons were euthanized by city police and were then taken by the local United States Department of Agriculture to be tested for rabies, however, those results came back negative. 

ODNR says distemper occurs naturally every five to seven years and acts as "nature's way of controlling the population". 

According to ODNR, distemper is a viral disease which causes brain damage. Usually, raccoons with distemper with appear fearless, appears uncoordinated, listlessness, confused behavior, and more. 

Officials say distemper cannot be spread to humans. 

However, the American Veterinary Medical Association says that distemper can easily pass from wildlife, such as raccoons to dogs through close proximity sneezing and shared food dishes.

The AVMA says the signs to look for in a pet include: 

Initially, infected dogs will develop watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes. They then develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system, infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitches, convulsions with jaw chewing movements and salivation ("chewing gum fits"), seizures, and partial or complete paralysis. The virus may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden, leading to its nickname "hard pad disease."

According to the division of wildlife, the best defense against distemper is not to feed the animals. 

Anyone who suspects they have seen a sick or distempered raccoon can contact their local p

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