Digital Access

Digital Access
Access saukvalley.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, Daily including the e-Edition or e-Edition only.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Choose your news! Select the text alerts you want to receive: breaking news, prep sports scores, school closings, weather, and more. Text alerts are a free service from SaukValley.com, but text rates may apply.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Sign up for free e-newsletters today.
In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, the Telegraph and Daily Gazette newspapers will not be published May 27. Breaking news and information will be updated on SaukValley.com.
Nation & World

What you need to know about ‘zombie raccoons’

They may sound like some invention out of Hollywood, but “zombie raccoons” are real and police say they are a threat to pets.

In 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.”

Distemper 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 website states.

Animals 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 Weitzel.

“We’ve had a number of cases concerning raccoons with distemper in our jurisdiction,” Weitzel said.

The 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.

“It 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.

Police will put the animals down and public works crews have been disposing of the carcasses, he said.

The 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.

The best 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.

“Animals 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.

———

2019 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Loading more