ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) – The Bi-State Wildlife Hotline is warning parents and dog owners about a serious outbreak of distemper in several St. Louis County communities.
Group founder and president Angel Wintrode tells KMOX News that since October they’ve had to start capturing and putting down infected raccoons at an incredibly high rate.
“In a normal year it would be maybe three or four a month,” Wintrode says, “where right now we’re doing three and four a day. It’s crazy the amount that we are bringing in.”
The added emphasis on dog owners is because dogs that haven’t received their parvo-distemper shot are susceptible to the fatal neurological disease.
“This is not the standard rabies vaccine,” Wintrode explains. “This is the extra vaccine that your veterinarian asks you ‘Hey, do you want to do this extra one? It’s only fifteen bucks more’.”
Why the sudden rash of distemper cases now?
Wintrode believes the weather is at least partially to blame.
“We haven’t had a good, hard freeze in two years now,” she says. “We need that in Missouri. We need that to kill off the ticks. We need that to kill off the fleas. And we need that to kill off diseases in general, like parvo and distemper.”
Infected raccoons often come out during daylight hours, showing little of their natural inclination to avoid contact with humans or pets.
They might be stumbling around or falling over almost as if they were drunk, Wintrode says.
Infected raccoons have already been seen in Chesterfield, Ballwin, Ellisville, Manchester, Rock Hill, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, High Ridge and Fenton.
They’re contagious to unvaccinated dogs and if approached have the potential to injure people or pets.
In Missouri, anyone who believes they may have encountered a raccoon suffering from distemper is asked to call (636) 492-1610.