The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging Vermont pet owners to ensure that their pets are properly vaccinated, after several sick and dying gray foxes, raccoons, and skunks have been discovered in central Vermont.
After the deadly rabies virus was ruled out on one adult male gray fox, the Fish & Wildlife Department investigated the cause and discovered that canine distemper was confirmed in this animal. This means that other susceptible wildlife such as raccoons and skunks may also be at risk. Canine distemper is not known to affect humans, but can be transmitted to domestic dogs.
Canine distemper is a viral disease that can be spread to many mammals, usually through direct contact with bodily fluids. Gray foxes are particularly susceptible. The virus is present in the environment, but outbreaks are sporadic and mortality is low. Infected animals typically go unreported unless they occur near populated areas where sick animals are more likely to be noted.
Infected animals exhibit a wide variety of non-specific clinical signs. They may also exhibit abnormal behavior. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reminds citizens that they should never approach any wildlife, especially if acting sick or exhibiting abnormal behavior. Rather they should immediately notify their local warden. They may also call the rabies hotline at 1(800) 4RABIES.
“This virus is thought to spread because of close contact between affected animals,” said Chris Bernier, biologist for Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “We strive to maintain healthy populations of these species in order to prevent outbreaks like this from occurring.”
The Fish & Wildlife Department is increasing surveillance in the area to further evaluate the extent of this outbreak.
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging pet owners to make sure their pets’ vaccinations are up to date following a confirmed case of canine distemper in a gray fox in Washington County. The fox was tested following reports of sick and dying foxes, raccoons and skunks in central Vermont. Canine distemper is not known to affect humans, but can be transmitted to domestic dogs.