Santa Cruz Co.: Diseased raccoons threaten pets

Several raccoons in parts of Santa Cruz County have tested positive for distemper, The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter announced Wednesday.

The sick animals were found in Aptos, Watsonville and in the Seabright area of Santa Cruz, animal shelter officials said.

While distemper poses no health risk to humans, it can pose a threat to their dogs and cats, according to animal shelter officials.

The animals can contract canine or feline distemper from direct contact with an infected raccoon or it’s bodily waste or secretions, animal shelter officials said.

Symptoms include high fever, reddened eyes and watery discharge from the nose and eyes. An infected dog will become lethargic and tired, as well as anorexic, animal shelter officials said.

Persistent coughing, vomiting and diarrhea may also occur, according to the animal shelter.

Symptoms of feline distemper, also known as feline panleukopenia, include fever, vomiting diarrhea and sudden death, animal shelter officials said.

They recommend pet owners feed their animals indoors and don’t leave food outdoors, as it can attract animals that are possibly infected.

Additionally, pet owners should restrain their animals when outside and should not let them roam, according to animal shelter officials.

Residents can report sick or injured animals to the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter at (831) 454-7303.