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TWRA receiving reports of sick raccoons in west Tennessee

Numerous reports of sick raccoons with symptoms consistent with rabies or canine distemper infections have recently been reported to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the agency said.
TWRA recommends caution and avoiding interaction with sick wildlife.
It’s also a good time to make sure that pets’ vaccinations are up to date.
If a wild animal has bitten a person or pet, contact the local health department or the Tennessee Department of Health for an animal bite consultation and risk assessment.
Raccoon-variant rabies has not been identified in West Tennessee and is not suspected by the state health department at this time. However, rabies is a virus that can affect all mammals, including humans, and is deadly if left untreated.
Canine distemper is also caused by a virus and affects many carnivore species, including domestic dogs, coyotes, raccoons and foxes, but it has not been seen to affect humans.
Canine distemper occurs naturally in wild populations, and outbreaks of the disease tend to occur every five to seven years. These cycles of outbreaks tend to come along when raccoon populations become highly concentrated.
No cure exists for the disease, although with a 50% mortality rate, some animals will survive.
This disease can be transferred from raccoons to dogs, and pet owners should take precautions to limit exposure.
Most reports of sick wildlife have been reported in counties bordering the Mississippi River, however, reports are beginning to pop-up in other counties, TWRA said.
The agency has also received a few reports from Madison County.
As disease migrates in the wild, it’s a good idea to remain vigilant and follow the following TWRA guidelines regarding raccoons and other wildlife:
•Do not approach or handle sick wildlife.
•Keep children and pets away from sick wildlife.
•Do not feed raccoons. Remove possible food sources like garbage cans, pet food bowls, and compost piles.
•Keep pet vaccines up to date to prevent infection.
The TWRA said it does not have staff to provide animal removal services. Instead, contact local pest removal services or animal control.
The TWRA is the permitting agency for these companies, and the pest removal service nearest you can be found at: TWRA Animal Damage Control
The Hardin County Health Department contact number is 731-925-2557. The Tennessee Department of Health can be reached at at 615-741-7247 or 615-687-7033.
For more information on canine distemper, rabies, and other wildlife diseases, visit the TWRA and TDH websites.

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