sound like some invention out of Hollywood, but
“zombie raccoons” are real and police say they are a
threat to pets.
Illinois, the Riverside Police Department is warning pet
owners about raccoons carrying the distemper virus,
which can cause the infected animals to walk on their
hind legs, stagger and bare their teeth — the reason
they’re referred to as “zombies.”
is one of the most serious diseases dogs can get and
it’s also one of the easiest to prevent, according to
the American Kennel Club. The name likely sounds
familiar if you’ve taken your dog to a veterinarian
for routine care. It is among the core vaccinations your
dog likely received, “along with parvovirus, canine
adenovirus, and rabies vaccines,” the kennel club
who have not had this vaccine are at high risk in the
Riverside area after three reports of “zombie
raccoons” recently, according to police Chief Tom
had a number of cases concerning raccoons with distemper
in our jurisdiction,” Weitzel said. “If you see a
sick raccoon that may be a threat to public safety, call
distemper virus affects the respiratory,
gastrointestinal and nervous system of dogs. Symptoms
can include ocular and nasal discharge, sneezing,
coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting,
diarrhea, tremors and seizures. Death can occur from
secondary pneumonia or nonresponsive seizure activity,
seems every year around this time we get a rise in calls
about raccoons acting oddly and we respond to calls
about raccoons that may be a danger to the public. Our
policy allows us to put down animals that are suffering
or pose a threat to public safety,” Weitzel said.
will put the animals down and public works crews have
been disposing of the carcasses, he said.
Police Department said dogs in backyards, even
fenced-in, can be at particular risk to wild animals. It
suggests direct supervision of dogs to prevent unwanted
contact with wildlife.
way to prevent distemper in dogs is to have them
vaccinated. Twice-yearly visits to a veterinarian are
recommended, and pet owners who take their dogs out for
socialization with other animals, such as to dog parks
or training classes or for boarding, should check
whether those places require proof of vaccination.
that are most susceptible to the viruses are those that
are immune-compromised by age or other illness,” the
Police Department noted on its website.