FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 26, 2012
Contact: Megan Gilliland, communications manager, City of Lawrence (785) 832-3406 OR Lisa Horn, communications coordinator, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, (785) 856-7362
Reports of diseased raccoons increasing in city
(Lawrence, Kan.) – The City of Lawrence Animal Control has received several calls in the past few weeks of raccoons that exhibit symptoms of lethargy and may seem unusually docile or tame. At this time, the city can confirm that the raccoons are not infected with rabies. The most likely prospect is that the raccoons have contracted a strain of distemper which is causing the animals to exhibit the symptoms mentioned above. Distemper is a relatively common animal disease with symptoms including upper respiratory illness and seizures. It is fatal for animals.
Distemper cannot be transmitted from animals to humans but it can be transmitted from animal to animal. It is recommended that all domesticated animals, including cats and dogs, are up-to-date on all vaccinations. Contact your veterinarian to have your animals vaccinated and to determine vaccination schedules.
“According to our wildlife health sources, the number of cases Lawrence has seen in the past few weeks is significant compared to most years,” said Megan Gilliland, communications manager. “However, this is not just affecting Lawrence and our thought is to notify the public of a potential danger to animals or those who may come into contact with these diseased animals.”
Since these animals seem particularly tame and less inhibited to be around humans, young children may assume that approaching the animals is okay. If you come into contact with one of these animals, the city recommends you contact Lawrence Police Department Dispatch at (785) 832-7509 to report the animal. Animal Control will be dispatched to the site.
If you see a raccoon that is showing signs of lethargy, cannot move their hind legs, or lying around even when there is activity in the area, contact Lawrence Police Dispatch.
“Typically, raccoons will scurry when confronted by humans,” said Gilliland. “Don’t try to transport the animal and don’t try to remove it yourself. Tell children or those around your house not to approach or touch the animals.”
To lessen raccoon activity in your yard, make sure that your garbage cans are secure and have lids, and any dumpsters in the area are secured.
“According to our sources, distemper is generally a seasonal outbreak and the mild winter may have contributed to an increase in raccoons seen this spring,” said Gilliland.
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