Keweenaw County sees rash of canine distemper

EAGLE RIVER — Keweenaw County Sheriff’s deputies were called on several times this past weekend to dispatch foxes with distemper, most of which occurred in Grant Township. Sheriff Bill Luokkanen said earlier in the summer, his office responded to numerous complaints from various places throughout the county in reference to raccoons showing strong signs of canine distemper, and now it appears to be spreading to the county’s fox population.

“We put out a press release in July in reference to the uptick in distemper in raccoons complaints that we’d been taking,” he said.

Luokkanen cautioned that distemper is an airborne virus, and though humans cannot contract the illness, pets can. He advises that people make sure their pets’ distemper vaccines are up to date.

“Anyone noticing wildlife showing signs of distemper,” Luokkanen said, “are asked to contact the Michigan Department Of Natural Resources Customer Service Center at 1(906)353-6651.”

Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, thick mucus from an animal’s eyes or nose, disorientation, and lethargy, Luokkanen said.

“Sneezing, coughing, thick mucus from eyes or nose, disorientation, lethargy.

“We had numerous complaints about raccoons earlier this summer,” Luokkanen said. “I don’t believe we had as many complaints as Houghton County, but there were enough.”

The release Luokkanen mentioned is dated July 22 and can be seen on the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.