This isn't a joke! We have so many raccoons around at dusk and some days I even have to lock up the chickens early even though my coop is raccoon proof as I get nervous! Can you imagine if you saw a raccoon looking like a zombie? I'd absolutely freak out.
This news is trending everywhere but it's happening in the Chicago area. Chicago-area officials are warning locals that cases have been spotted in the region. Raccoons are reported to be stumbling throughout the area and they bare their teeth.
Mental Floss tells us the raccoons are suffering from a disease that dog owners know well, distemper. This is why it's so important your dogs are vaccinated for this virus.
"The raccoons get their spooky nickname from a disease that causes them to walk upright, stagger aimlessly, and bare their teeth [PDF]. Despite resembling furry members of the undead, the scariest thing about them is their potential to spread a deadly disease to dogs.Distemper is a virus that infects certain mammals like raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and skunks. Domesticated dogs are also susceptible to the disease."
Distemper is nasty and you don't want your dog to get this disease. It's highly contagious. The diseased animals are a persistent problem near Chicago according to reports by the Chicago Tribune.
USA Today reports the signs and what to look for,
The city said symptoms of distemper in raccoons include:
- Walking around dazed and confused, and/or approaching people or pets
- Staggering or falling down when walking
- Showing their teeth
- Having "glowing" eyes
Zombie raccoons have also been reported in Youngstown, Ohio.
Puppies and dogs most often become infected through airborne exposure (through sneezing or coughing) to the virus from an infected dog or wild animal. The glowing eyes and staggering behavior are what makes them appear to be "zombie-like" and they will walk on their hind legs!
Pet owners likely familiar with the canine distemper virus as their vet discussed this when talking through core vaccinations. When you hear about sick raccoons you hope everyone vaccinated their animal.
The American Veterinary Medical Association also reinforces that this is a serious disease and it can attack the nervous system of a dog.
What do you think about these zombies? Please let us know in the comments.