Diseased Raccoons a Cause for Concern for Pet Lovers

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Many of us enjoyed the mild winter but it's coming home to roost in some cases. FOX 4 recently told you about a bigger than normal bug population.

Now, the problem is raccoons. The raccoon population is causing some problems for people in Lawrence. When you hear the word distemper, you likely think of dogs and there's a vaccination you can get.

Over the past couple of weeks, Lawrence Animal Control has gotten several calls about raccoons. They're not digging in garbage. They're actually pretty tame which is why officials want to warn people.

"What we are encouraging people to do is if they see an animal like this in their yard, that they don't touch it," said Megan Gilliland with the City of Lawrence.

There's not reason for panic but Gilliland says you should take the warning seriously.

"Distemper is fatal and there's really nothing you can do about it," she said.

It's also easily spread.

"We are encouraging everyone to go to their respective vets and ensure that the vaccine is up to date," she said.

She also advises if you're out with your pet, don't interact with any strange or unknown animals.

"Don't approach an animal that you don't know and obviously make sure your animals are vaccinated, that's the best thing you can do," she said. "You can't always track your animal when it's outside in your yard and may come across something."

Distemper can't be spread from animals to humans but there are potential dangers such as scratches or bites if you mess with a sick animal, for that reason there's a special request for parents.

"Tell your children not to play with animals, they seem unusually tame and able to approach, but that is just a sign of disease," Gilliland advises.

Lawrence isn't the only city with sick raccoons. Topeka and other communities are seeing the problem as well. Officials FOX 4 spoke to on Tuesday say matter where you live, if you see a sick animal stay away from it and call your animal control.

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