If you have a pet dog, then you have probably heard of Distemper. While working in animal hospitals, I have seen many litters of puppies lost because they were not vaccinated properly. You may not be aware that Distemper can be prevalent in wildlife as well. In recent years, the raccoons of Dallas and surrounding towns have had a terrible plague of it. In 2013, infected animals were being caught in unprecedented numbers. The disease was spread by raccoons to the big cat species at the exotic animal sanctuary in Wylie. Distemper is a terrible and incurable disease that can wipe-out an entire population of animals.
The reason I have this on mind today is that I had a call referred to me from the wildlife coalition hotline regarding "baby raccoons that maybe had leg deformities and couldn't walk right". After talking with this person for a while and having her share pictures and a video, I deduced that these were actually three juvenile raccoons with advanced cases of Distemper. It was so heartbreaking to realize I couldn't help these little guys.
I share this story so everyone can be more familiar with the disease, know how to recognize it, and know how to protect their pets. If you see a suspected sick animal, please report it. This is the only way to track the disease and help reduce the spread so it doesn't wipe out the population. Even if you find raccoons loathsome, hopefully you can respect that nature has a balance and these animals have their place too.
Hopefully this litter of sick racoon kits isn't indicative of a huge problem like two years ago. Please click here to learn the signs, symptoms, and prevention of Distemper.