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Mayes County raccoons showing signs of distemper

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Posted at 5:06 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 18:49:58-05

PRYOR, Okla. — Authorities in Pryor are warning people over a handful of disoriented raccoons in part of Mayes county.

Animal control officers say they’ve been busy over the last few weeks, picking up disoriented and confused raccoons, who may be carriers of distemper.

They say they’ve seen an uptick in raccoons showing signs of distemper, with at least one of them testing positive for the virus.

Distemper is a neurological virus that will kill an animal.

Animal control officer Maria Harges says there have been a few cases of distemper here and there, but this year it looks like there could be more than usual.

"It comes and goes but right now, it’s been exceptionally bad," says Harges.

Some symptoms of distemper in raccoons include unusual behavior like walking around aimlessly, being out during the day, or not being afraid of people.

"Raccoons that we have found that have been sick with distemper often are disoriented, they cannot keep their balance well they may seem friendly but they’re not," says Harges.

Distemper can be passed on to dogs.

Tulsa Animal Welfare reopened this month after having to shut down in November because of a distemper outbreak there.

Harges says if you are a dog owner, it's important to get your pet vaccinated.

She also says while some people enjoy feeding the wildlife and giving food to stray animals, it’s not in the best interest of the city, or its animals.

"A lot of what causes this problem is when people are putting food out for the stray cats, or are fascinated with having wildlife come around, what they don’t understand is it's perpetuating the problem of diseases running rampant in these populations," says Harges.

Animal control officers say if you see a raccoon out and about during the day call them and do not approach the animal.

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