Distemper cases up this season

Photo by state of Michigan Police say most of the distemper cases they are seeing this year is in raccoons.

HOUGHTON — Cases of canine distemper are on the rise in the Houghton area.

Police Chief John Donnelly said between 10 and 20 animals have had to be put down locally between Houghton police and Michigan Technological University Public Safety.

While a couple of foxes have been spotted, most of the distemper sufferers have been raccoons, Donnelly said.

The disease has no known treatment for animals. Humans are not affected by the disease.

Animals with the disease often appear “drunk,” staggering around, Donnelly said.

“It’s not like rabies, where they come after people, but they’re out in the middle of the day, which is not natural for a raccoon,” he said.

To prevent the spread of the disease, the animals are put down rather than live-trapped, Donnelly said. The carcasses are removed and burned for safety.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recommends yearly vaccinations for domestic dogs. It also recommends not trying to handle animals suspected of having distemper, as symptoms can be similar to rabies.