In a news release, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that there has been a rise of a disease in raccoons that can be transmitted to dogs. Canine distemper can be spread through the air or direct contact with urine, feces, blood or saliva.

This virus affects the central nervous systems of creatures such as raccoons, foxes, skunks and more. The animal loses their fear of humans, often stumbles and comes across as overly friendly. Symptoms are similar to rabies.

Dr. Michelle Carstensen, a wildlife health supervisor for the DNR, states that there appears to be a rise in cases reported this year. Canine distemper cases have been confirmed in Olmsted and Yellow Medicine counties and reports of sick raccoons have been noted in Dodge, Winona and Kandiyohi counties.

What pet owners can do is make sure their dogs are up to date on their vaccines. Attempt to keep dogs away from sick or dead wildlife. While canine distemper does not affect humans, people are encouraged to stay away from dead wildlife as well. If disposal of a dead animal is necessary, it should be buried where it is found.

Tennessee, Virginia and Texas also report increased cases of canine distemper in raccoons and foxes this year.