There’s an uptick in diseased raccoons. People in South St. Louis said they’re now seeing the nocturnal animals in broad daylight.
Distemper is a virus. The St. Louis Health Department said it’s not transferable to human beings, but it can be transferred to your pets. In those cases, the virus can be deadly.
"It wasn't until like a minute or so passed, that the raccoon - that there was something going on with it,” explained Robert Langellier, who went outside to walk his dog when he came face to face with a little guy sitting outside of his Tower Grove apartment. He said the raccoon did not show signs of being at all scared of his rambunctious puppy.
"It was kind of walking around dazedly, confusedly,” said Langellier.
“It was very skinny, definitely on its last leg so to speak,” he said.
"They have a really dusky sort of appearance to them,” explained another Tower Grove resident, Teya King.
“They have very mucus-y [sic] eyes,” she said.
"In one week alone, within 50 feet of each other, we had three different raccoons here in the street here,” King recalled.
“Probably dead by car because they were dazed and walking across the street."
Over the last month, King said she has come across 20 diseased raccoons around the neighborhood. She said it’s pretty easy for the virus to spread.
“You can have a raccoon come and chow down on the food. It's leaving saliva traces on the food. Then you get healthy raccoons chowing down on the food…You get the drift," Kind explained of how the virus is transmitted from one animal to the next.
King, whose husband is a vet, has been working to locate the sick animals, get them in cages and bring them to the animal hospital, because the last place you want them, she says, is on the street.
“There's kids walking by, there's dogs walking by, joggers, all kinds of obvious problems with that,” King said.
The City of St. Louis Health Department said it’s very important that, if you see a distempered animal, that you call them. They have someone answering 24/7. If you need to contact the Health Department before 5 p.m., call (314) 622-4800; anytime after 5 p.m., call (314) 231-1212.
A reminder to pet owners, it’s crucial that your dogs and cats are vaccinated.