Minnesota DNR warns distemper in raccoons can spread to dogs

Minnesota officials are warning about a rising number of reports of a disease in raccoons that can affect dogs.

The Department of Natural Resources says canine distemper cases have been confirmed in Olmsted and Yellow Medicine counties, and that sick raccoons also have been reported in Dodge, Winona and Kandiyohi counties.

Dr. Joni Scheftel, the state public health veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Health, says the virus does not affect humans. But she says distemper can look like rabies, so it’s important to stay away from sick wildlife.

Infected animals behave abnormally, losing their fear of humans, stumbling, shaking and can act overly friendly.

The DNR says pet owners should ensure their dogs are current on their vaccinations. Pets should be kept away from sick or dead wildlife.