Canine distemper virus outbreak reported at Assateague Island National Seashore

BERLIN, Md. – National Park Service officials say a recent outbreak of canine distemper virus has been reported in raccoons near the Bayside Campground at Assateague Island National Seashore.

We’re told that one raccoon has tested positive and several others have shown clinical signs, and staff are awaiting test results.

This virus does not affect humans, however, domestic dogs and other mammalian wildlife (foxes, skunks, river otters) can become infected with this highly contagious virus.

Officials are advising campers at the park to remember the following guidelines:

  • Prior to visiting the park, make sure your dogs are current on their vaccines for canine distemper virus, rabies virus, and other infectious diseases that can be transmitted from wildlife
  • Keep your pets on a six-foot leash at all times
  • Dispose of trash in secure trash bins and dumpsters
  • Remove food and water sources for raccoons, including pet bowls. This will help reduce areas where raccoons can congregate and transmit the virus to other animals. Visitors should feed dogs prior to dusk and then remove food bowls, as raccoons are generally nocturnal
  • Do not attempt to feed, touch, or handle wildlife

Visitors are urged to notify park staff or campground hosts if they see any wildlife in distress or behaving unusually in the park. If your pet comes in contact with a potentially infected animal, you should seek care from your nearest veterinarian.

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