Riverside police are warning dog owners in the west suburb to take precautions after receiving an uptick in calls regarding “zombie raccoons.”
These raccoons carry the canine distemper virus, which can be dangerous to dogs, Riverside police said. The zombie description refers to the way the infected raccoons walk on their hind legs, stagger and bare their teeth.
Symptoms include ocular and nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and seizures, police said. The virus can result in death from secondary pneumonia or seizures.
Police are urging dog owners to vaccinate their pet and supervise them while outside so that they don’t come in contact with wild animals. If residents see a sick raccoon, they should call the police.
“It seems every year around this time we get a rise in calls about raccoons acting oddly and we respond to calls about raccoons that may be a danger to the public,” Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said. “Our policy allows us to put down animals that are suffering or pose a threat to public safety.”