Raccoons with canine distemper roam campus

A dog named Cy looks on at the Pet Away Stress event in the Waters Quad on Oct. 12, 2016. (File photo by Miranda Snyder | The Collegian)

The Veterinary Health Center at Kansas State University warned of an uptick in the number of raccoons infected with a highly contagious virus harmful to dogs.

Raccoons carrying canine distemper have been spotted on campus recently during the daytime, compounding the threat to physical safety presented by angry raccoons. Animals that have contracted this disease can show signs of aggression and can infect any dogs being walked on campus without any careful precautions.

According to petMD, canine distemper — also known as hard pad disease — can cause several painful symptoms such as coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. As the virus progress throughout the canine’s body, it can eventually affect the brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis, seizures and attacks of hysteria.

“I urge anyone out there to always keep your pet on a leash in public areas, especially around campus,” Jordan Dewell, sophomore in mechanical engineering, said.

Although there is no cure for canine distemper, there is a vaccination. Even with the vaccination, wild animals that seem aggressive should still be avoided, as they could easily hold different diseases that could affect pets in negative ways.

“I love our dog, Chance, and would be devastated if anything happened to her,” Martin Ortega, junior in electrical engineering, said.

If a raccoon with any of the symptoms of canine distemper is spotted, call the Riley County Police Department’s animal control services at (785) 537-2112. For safety reasons, do not approach or handle any raccoons, as they can act in unpredictable and harmful ways. If you believe your dog might be infected, call the Veterinary Health Center at (785) 532-5690.