Raccoon in South Fla. tests positive for canine distemper

Pet owners urged to ensure their pets are vaccinated


MIAMI – Miami-Dade County Animal Services said it is recommending dog and cat owners ensure their pets are up-to-date with distemper and rabies vaccinations after tests show a raccoon died of canine distemper.

Unvaccinated dogs and cats are at risk of infection from, and pose a risk of infection to, raccoons and other wildlife, the organization said.

Distemper is a viral infection that is commonly spread through airborne particles. Dogs and cats should be vaccinated against distemper annually to protect them from this potentially deadly disease, which poses no risk to humans, officials said.

Symptoms of distemper include nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, dry eyes, ulcers, lack of coordination, seizures, ataxia and blindness.

The testing of the raccoon was prompted by staff members at Tropical Park. In an effort to prevent this disease from spreading, Miami-Dade County Parks said it will closely monitor and enforce laws against the abandonment of dogs or cats at county parks.

Violators are subject to fines of up to $5,000. In addition, anyone found feeding a domestic or wild animal at a park will be fined up to $200 per violation, officials said.

Anyone with concerns regarding their pet's health or vaccination status should consult with their veterinarian. Additionally, low-cost vaccinations are available at Miami-Dade County Animal Services.