Video: Distemper Dwells In Starkville

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Reports of a deadly virus have been found in animals in Starkville. The disease is an easy one to prevent, but only if you follow the right steps.

It’s called distemper, and the virus is spread by certain wild animals, and can kill your pets if they’re not vaccinated.

The first call came in to the Starkville Animal Control on the 3rd of August.

Since then, six raccoons have been picked up, three with positive results, and three more waiting for the outcome.

Raccoons, skunks, and coyotes spread the virus.

“It started out in the wild populations, of like your wild coyotes, your foxes, and then we started seeing it in our domesticated dogs, and that’s when the virus was isolated, and we created a vaccine for it, so you know it’s all out there in wild,” says Emerson Animal Hospital Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Emerson.

Distemper lives in the wild, but it can easily move to your backyard.

“If you feed that wildlife, and they come up to your home, it’s spread by either what we call direct or indirect contact, meaning if the animal bites your pet, licks your pet, rubs all over your pet, they can get it. If they’re eating out of the same food and water bowl, they can get it from your pet, and this is a deadly virus. If your animal is not vaccinated it will kill them,” says Emerson.

Pet owners spending $18 to $20 dollars can mean life or death for your dogs.

“We want to stress to the community that if your dogs are not vaccinated, they need to be. Puppies definitely, and older dogs that have never been vaccinated, or are not current on their shots, or haven’t ever been vaccinated, they need to be vaccinated,” says Starkville Animal Control Officer, Sarah Akins.

Distemper can be mistaken as rabies, but Dr. Karen Emerson says they’re not the same. Foaming at the mouth is a sign of rabies, and these are the signs of distemper.

“It can cause severe, what we just say laying around, lethargy, not wanting to eat, they may have nasty mucus in their eyes and nose, then may start becoming what we call neurologic, you may notice them kind of getting really drunk acting, and you will notice this is in wildlife. If you’ve got a raccoon or fox that’s coming up to your house, that’s abnormal,” says Emerson.

Dr. Emerson wants to remind everyone to not feed the wildlife, and to call Animal Control if you notice any animal with symptoms of distemper.

Emerson also wants to stress if you have a ferret, to keep them inside, because there’s not a vaccine for them, and they can easily get it.

Categories: Local News

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