“Zombie raccoons” are disturbing a suburb of Chicago, and police are warning residents that dogs could be at risk of catching the raccoons’ disease.
Riverside police issued a warning to residents Monday that several confirmed cases of canine distemper virus have recently been found in local raccoons. The disease causes infected animals to walk on their hind legs, stagger and bare their teeth, which is where the “zombie” descriptor comes from, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Canine distemper virus is contagious and serious among dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Symptoms include discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and seizures, police said.
Once an animal catches the disease, there is no cure. This is why vaccination is crucial, the AVMA said.
"It seems every year around this time we get a rise in calls about raccoons acting oddly and we respond to calls about raccoons that may be a danger to the public,” said Riverside police Chief Tom Weitzel. “Our policy allows us to put down animals that are suffering or pose a threat to public safety.”
Police are urging residents to vaccinate their dogs and monitor their interactions with other animals. Any resident who sees a raccoon acting strangely should contact police.