Monday, April 19, 2010

Violently Ill Raccoons on Video in Woodburn

I just saw a news report that included video taken of raccoons circling violently on their hind legs, violently ill. Both raccoons exhibiting this behavior were shot and unfortunately, their bodies were burned. The question was raised on the news: were they rabid? Click the post title for story.

Witnesses say the raccoons were spitting violently, snarling, and shaking. This almost sounds like they ingested a neurotoxin. But, such symptoms would be common to rabies and to distemper which causes a high fever.

I will guess, if they weren't poisoned, which is common in trailer parks, they were suffering from distemper. I say this because raccoons get both canine and feline distemper. Canine distemper is more commonly known as parvo.

In the mid valley, circling behavior in raccoons with canine distemper has been witnessed on many occasions. Perhaps this is because of the high fever that develops in their brains, affecting their inner ear.

I am going to guess this is distemper because to get rabies, a raccoon must be bitten by another rabid animal and then the virus must fester in the wound before taking hold. Two raccoons with the same behavior were shot on the same day. Distemper spreads like wildfire between animals, once one has it, and can affect and kill the animal within 24 to 48 hours of exposure.

The fact two raccoons in the vicinity exhibited the same behavior at the same time makes it far more likely to be distemper. It is however possible that it is rabies. Raccoons eat anything. We have bats all over this area carrying rabies and when they become disabled by the virus, but are not yet deceased, these bats are on the ground, and can become prey for any animal scavenging for food, as raccoons do.

But the likilihood of two raccoons contacting the same bat or two bats with rabies on the ground at the same time, bitten while being eaten by two seperate raccoons make it more implausible.

If one raccoon was bitten eating an infected bat, then became symptomatic with rabies and bit another raccoon, they would not be simultaneously showing the same symptoms of rabies, is my thought on the matter, making it more plausible that this is an outbreak of cannine or feline distemper. These outbreaks are common and become more common when raccoon populations in an area become large, and thus, weaker because there is not enough food to go around.


I do not know why in the world the bodies of two strangely acting raccoons would be burned and not tested for rabies. One reason would be that these raccoons were poisoned and evidence needed destroyed by the perpetrator. But that may not be the case. It may be the case the bodies were burned because whomever did so feared whatever they had.

1 comment :

  1. You're right, the late news confirmed that they think it was distemper - for the reasons you suggested. The police officers burned the bodies because they were afraid they would spread disease but now they know not to do that.

    I learn a lot from you. :)

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