ADAMS -- In recent weeks, the town's Animal Control office has received several reports of wild foxes and raccoons in the area exhibiting unusual behavior. Because of the reports, Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt is making a special plea to pet owners: Make sure your pets are vaccinated.
While there is no affirmative test for distemper, the reported behavior of several foxes and raccoons is consistent with the disease, according to the animal control office. Symptoms include "Animals that are out in the daylight hours -- since raccoons and foxes are nocturnal -- not showing a fear of humans, drunk or staggering behavior, walking in circles, and gum-chewing behavior where the animal is randomly-opening and closing their mouth."
Since the visible symptoms of distemper so closely mimic symptoms of the rabies virus, animal services sent samples to the state. All the animals tested in the last month were negative for the rabies virus.
If a human or domestic animal comes in contact with a wild animal, Loholdt said authorities will try to capture that specific animal and send it away for rabies testing. If your pet comes into contact with a wild animal, Loholdt cautions against touching your pet or the wild animal without gloves. Loholdt said resident should call police.
The distemper virus is easily spread from an infected animal through nose secretions, urine, feces, and food or water containers, where it can survive for a few weeks in shady environments. There is no effective cure for distemper in domestic dogs, but the vaccine is nearly 100 percent effective in preventing the disease.
Loholdt encourages dog owners in the area to be vigilant in providing booster vaccines to their pets.
If you observe wildlife acting in an unusual or erratic manner, contact the Adams Police Department for Animal Control at (413) 743-1212.