GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) - In recent weeks, Georgetown Animal Services has received several reports of wild foxes and raccoons in the Georgetown area exhibiting unusual behavior. Because of the reports, Animal Services is making a special plea to dog owners: make sure your dog is vaccinated.
The reported behavior is what has animal control officers on the alert.
"Animals that are out in the daylight hours—since raccoons and foxes are nocturnal—not showing a fear of humans, drunk or staggering behavior, walking in circles, and gum-chewing behavior where the animal is randomly-opening and closing their mouths" is the behavior described by Max Mixon, animal control officer supervisor for Georgetown Animal Services. Mixon said there is no affirmative test for distemper.
Because the visible symptoms of distemper so closely mimic symptoms of the rabies virus, Animal Services sent samples to the State Health Services testing lab in Austin. All six animals tested in the last two months were negative for the rabies virus.
Canine distemper affects domestic dogs, raccoons, coyotes, and foxes, but is not transmissible to domestic cats or humans. The distemper virus is easily spread from an infected animal through nose secretions, urine, feces, and food or water containers, where it can survive for a few weeks in shady environments.
There is no effective cure for distemper in domestic dogs, but the vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing the disease.
"We would like to encourage dog owners in the area to be vigilant in providing booster vaccines to their pets," says Mixson. After a dog gets the series of recommended vaccinations in its first year, state law requires a rabies vaccine booster at least every three years. Many veterinarians recommend other regular vaccines, including a one- or three-year DHPP vaccine for distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
Anyone who observes wildlife acting in an unusual or erratic matter is asked to contact the Georgetown Police Department for Animal Control at 512-930-3510.
For more information, call Georgetown Animal Services at 512-930-3592.
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