Officials: Strange-Acting Raccoons In Ross Twp. Test Positive For Virus

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ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Officials say that strange-acting raccoons in Ross Township have tested positive for canine distemper virus.

According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the Allegheny County Health Department, five raccoons were removed from Ross Township in September and tested.

All five raccoons tested positive for canine distemper virus through two separate testing methods. They tested negative for rabies.

Christine D’Antonio’s Report:

According to Dr. Justin Brown, a wildlife veterinarian with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, canine distemper is often fatal and it can cause symptoms that appear identical to rabies. The disease is highly contagious.

Officials say a vaccine can help prevent domestic dogs from getting the disease. The disease does not affect humans.

“Distemper is not contagious to us humans; it’s not what we call a zoonotic disease, a disease that we can get from the animal,” said veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson, of Animal General in Cranberry Township. “It’s just our pets that we have to be careful for, but it doesn’t survive real well outside that. Hot distemper won’t survive real well outside that animal, so it would have to be pretty immediate contact.”

Ross Township law enforcement euthanized almost 40 animals in August and at least 28 in September.

More information on canine distemper can be found the Pennsylvania Game Commission website.

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