With the news currently reporting on the outbreak of rabies, we haven't heard much about distemper, an equally serious and contagious disease affecting dogs, cats, raccoons, foxes, skunks and more. Although it started out in dogs, it is now commonly seen in raccoons and skunks. According to Wikipedia, distemper affects several body systems, including the gastrointestinal, respiratory tracts, the spinal cord and brain. The canine distemper virus falls within the same virus family as measles and mumps in humans, and there is some ambiguity amongst experts on whether it can be contracted to humans. Most agree there is a lower risk for humans but it is possible. Unvaccinated dogs are most at risk putting their owners at risk.
Raccoon cases first started increasing in October of 2015, and have continued to grow over the past few months. Similarly to rabies, once infected it is almost always fatal. It also has some common symptoms including appearing disoriented, lethargic, strange behaviour and a generally sickly appearance which is why is often mistaken for rabies.