SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara County Animal Services is advising the community to be on high alert after they identified multiple cases of distemper in wildlife throughout Santa Barbara County. The highest concentration of cases was found in the northern parts of the county.
The public was first alerted of the risk of distemper to domestic dogs in January. However, the disease is still affecting wildlife in heavily populated areas.
The animals most commonly infected are coyotes, foxes and raccoons.
To prevent the spread of this disease, pet owners are advised to make sure their pets are up-to-date on all of their vaccines.
Canine distemper is described as a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of an animal.
Wildlife that is infected with this disease often moves slowly, stumbles and may appear blind or confused. The animals may not act afraid of humans and can become aggressive if they feel cornered or threatened.
Distemper is most commonly spread through coughing, but can also spread through bodily secretions like urine.
County Animal Services said that while unvaccinated dogs can become infected, canine distemper poses no threat to the health of the humans around them.
If you notice any wildlife behaving abnormally or sick, do not approach them! Instead, contact the Santa Barbara County Animal Services at (805) 934-6119 and press '7' to reach a staff member.
Animal Services advises owners to keep their dogs on a leash and to scan their residence for wild animals before letting their dogs out. Additionally, owners should not leave their pet's food outside as this can attract wildlife.
Animals Services wants to remind owners that the cost of prevention is much cheaper than the cost of treatment if their pet becomes infected.