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Distemper on the rise in Bay Area wildlife

More cases of distemper have been reported among foxes and raccoons in the Bay Area this year than normal, the Contra Costa Times reports.

Wildlife centers say that the reports of symptoms among these animals do not pose a risk for humans, but could affect pets that have not been vaccinated against the disease, which is spread primarily through the air but also though contact with infected animals or their bodily fluids, the news source reports.

"When populations are high, the potential for spreading is higher," Susan Heckley, wildlife rehabilitation director at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, told the news outlet. "Many wild animals get it. That's a very good reason to vaccinate your pets."

According to the Humane Society of the United States, foxes and raccoons are also primary carriers of rabies, along with skunks and bats. However, the symptoms are different. An animal with rabies would be oblivious to noise or nearby movement and have a watery-looking face. An animal with distemper has goopy eyes, nasal discharge, emaciation and staggered walking.
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