‘Zombie-Like’ Raccoons May Have Distemper

‘Zombie-Like’ Raccoons May Have Distemper

Police say they are investigating more than a dozen reports of “zombie-like” raccoons roaming residential neighborhoods in northeast Ohio.

CBS affiliate WKBN-TV reports that Youngstown police have received numerous calls in the past three weeks about raccoons acting strangely in the daytime.

Robert Coggeshall said he was playing with his dogs outside his home last week when a raccoon approached them.

“He would stand up on his hind legs, which I’ve never seen a raccoon do before, and he would show his teeth and then he would fall over backward and go into almost a comatose condition,” Coggeshall told WKBN-TV.

That raccoon and 14 others that police responded to were euthanized.

Officials with the state’s Department of Natural Resources said the animals were likely suffering from distemper, not rabies. The viral disease causes coughing, tremors and seizures and leads raccoons to lose their fear of humans.

Earlier this year, Canadian wildlife experts warned about an emergeing “zombie deer disease,” comparable to mad cow disease. They also suggested it could potentially start to infect humans who eat deer, elk, moose, or other animals that carry it.

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