An increased number of confirmed and suspected canine distemper virus have been seen in the Scott Valley and Mount Shasta areas, the CDFW reported.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning of a possible outbreak of canine distemper in wild gray foxes in Siskiyou County.
Specifically, an increased number of confirmed and suspected canine distemper virus have been seen in the Scott Valley and Mount Shasta areas, the CDFW reported.
CDV is not transmissible to humans but most other carnivores are susceptible, including unvaccinated dogs and cats. Skunks and other mustelids are highly susceptible.
The public is encouraged not to touch a dead fox and if bitten or scratched by one, to call the Siskiyou County Environmental Health Division.
Animals may not show signs of CDV but can still transmit the virus to animals and wildlife for 90 days after being exposed, the CDFW said.
CDV is transmitted among carnivores by contact with oral, respiratory and ocular fluids and other body fluids such feces and urine, which contain the virus.
Although infections in domestic dogs have been reduced through vaccination, infected dogs that have contact with or share food with wild carnivores can transmit the virus to wildlife, said the CDFW.
The virus also spreads among wild carnivores and mostly affects susceptible young animals.
Distemper can cause respiratory, neurologic and gastrointestinal illness in foxes. Clinical signs include, but are not limited to, depression, fever, respiratory distress, diarrhea, anorexia, incoordination, moving in small circles, yellow to clear discharge from the nose and eyes, and crusting on the nose, eyes, mouth or footpads.
There is no treatment for sick animals except supportive care. Infected gray foxes may or may not survive the illness, said the CDFW in a press release.
If you find a sick or injured fox, contact the nearest permitted rehabilitation facility. The closest facility for Siskiyou County is Shasta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, located in Anderson. Call (530) 365-9453 and leave a message on their hotline and the fox rehabilitator will get back to you promptly, usually within two hours.
If human or animal safety is perceived to be at risk from a sick fox, call the California State Parks Northern Dispatch at (916) 358-1300 for CDFW assistance in humanely dispatching the animal.
If you are bitten or scratched by a fox, call the County of Siskiyou Environmental Health Division at (530) 841-2100. Neurologic signs of CDV may not be distinguishable from rabies virus infection, which is a public health risk.
If you find a dead fox, do not handle the carcass with bare hands.
CDFW encourages the public to remove domestic pet food from outside their home, especially at night, and to not feed wildlife or allow them contact with domestic animals.
Domestic dogs and cats should receive vaccinations for rabies, distemper and other common diseases as directed by a veterinarian.
For questions regarding distemper in wildlife or concerns about sick animals, contact CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory at (916) 358-2790 or CDFW Wildlife Biologist Christine Found-Jackson at (530) 841-2278.