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NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Metro Animal Care and Control is recommending all pet owners in Davidson County to make sure their dog's vaccinations are up-to-date after an increase of sick raccoons reported in the area.

MACC said the clinical symptoms of the illness point to canine distemper virus.

"Canine distemper virus is easily transmitted from wildlife to pets running at large," said Staci Cannon with Metro Animal Care and Control, "The distemper virus looks like a common cold or kennel cough at the beginning of an infection. Signs include discharge from the eyes and nose, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite, and fever.  However, unlike a cold, this virus can quickly progress to neurologic signs, pneumonia and death."

The illness can lay dormant for up to six weeks before symptoms occur. Mild cases can recover with supportive care, but once the disease advances to neurologic symptoms or pneumonia, it is often fatal.

Distemper is not transmissible to cats or humans, but is transmissible to dogs and ferrets. Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at the greatest risk. In consideration of these cases, it is more important than ever for pet owners to keep their pets well vaccinated and safely confined where they won’t come in contact with unvaccinated or sick animals and wildlife.

There have recently been two dogs that came through the MACC shelter that have been confirmed with distemper. 

The distemper virus is transmitted by coming in contact directly with an infected dog or wild animal, or indirectly with its saliva, urine, or feces. The distemper virus can also spread through the air. Even the most stringent sanitation protocols cannot eliminate the risk at any shelter.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog's vaccinations are not up to date.

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Joey is an award-winning multimedia producer from Augusta, GA and alumnus of the University of South Carolina-Aiken. He's happy to be Working 4 You and telling the stories of middle Tennessee on WSMV.com!

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