The Arlington County government is warning residents in North Arlington communities of cases of raccoons that have tested positive for rabies and canine distemper, putting domestic animals at risk.
Beginning in late November, Arlington County Animal Control began receiving increased reports of sick and deceased raccoons in multiple neighborhoods, county officials said, with at least one testing positive for rabies.
In response, Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Department of Human Services arranged for broader testing of six raccoons that were removed showing neurological signs and symptoms in early March.
All of the raccoons tested were clinically positive for canine distemper, a viral disease that is always present in wildlife populations at varying levels.
This virus does not affect humans. But Raccoons are especially susceptible to canine distemper, as are as foxes, coyotes, skunks, and unvaccinated dogs.
The disease is transmitted when animals have direct contact with infected animals or indirect contact with body fluids/feces from an infected animal.
“We are urging residents in North Arlington to be vigilant,” county-government officials said. “This outbreak is no longer contained to a specific neighborhood.”
Residents are urged to:
• Ensure pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines.
• Keep dogs on a leash at all times and keep cats inside.
• Not approach or feed any wild animals.
• Feed pets inside.
• Remove wildlife attractants from yards, such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food and compost.
“If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented or aggressive, [you] should stay away from the animal and call Animal Control immediately at (703) 931-9241,” county officials said. “If you come across a deceased raccoon in your yard or a public space, contact Animal Control immediately.”