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El Segundo Police Department
Monday December 4th, 2017 :: 08:50 a.m. PST


Protect Your Pet From a Distemper Outbreak Reported in the South Bay, Harbor Area

Distemper is a virus that can infect animals, including dogs, and lead to serious illness or death. The LA County Dept of Public Health has received several reports of raccoons in the South Bay showing symptoms of distemper. Please see the following for more information and tips on how to protect your pet.

What is distemper?

Distemper (aka canine distemper) is caused by a virus. It can infect dogs, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and large cats such as lions and tigers. The virus infects the lungs, airways, nose, and eyes. It can also infect the brain and suppress the immune system. Distemper can cause serious illness and death in these animals. It does not cause illness in cats or people.

How do dogs catch distemper?

Dogs catch distemper from other dogs or wild animals that are infected with it. They can catch it by having direct contact with the sick animal, or by standing near the animal when it is coughing. They can also catch it if they have contact with food bowls or other objects that were contaminated by infected animals. Puppies and unvaccinated dogs are the most likely to catch it.

What are the symptoms in animals?

Coughing is the most common symptom. They usually develop fever and discharge from the eyes and / or nose. The disease can also cause disorientation, tremors, twitches and seizures. Infected animals are vulnerable to catching more infections, such as bacterial pneumonia. The symptoms are similar in raccoons and other wildlife.

How do you know if your dog is infected with distemper?

You cannot tell for sure just by looking at the dog. Veterinarians can order blood and urine tests to test a dog for Distemper. Your dog is not likely to have distemper If it received a full series of three or more distemper vaccinations when it was a puppy.

What is the treatment for distemper?

Currently, there is no treatment that kills the virus inside the animal. Veterinarians administer medications to fight the extra infections (such as pneumonia) and to prevent seizures, while the dog's body fights off the virus.

How can I prevent distemper in my dog?

1. Vaccination. Distemper is prevented by vaccinating puppies with a series of 3 or more Distemper vaccines between the ages of 2 and 4 months. Distemper is the "D" in the DHLPP vaccine for dogs. The vaccine must be given again (booster) a year later, then every three years for life.
2. Protect puppies. Keep puppies at home, away from unfamiliar dogs, until they have finished their complete vaccination series.
3. Keep your dog away from sick dogs and wildlife. Do not let your dog have direct contact with any sick dogs, nor share food or water bowls with them.
4. Keep pet food and water indoors, away from wildlife. Outdoor pet food and water can attract raccoons and other wildlife. Distemper outbreaks occur in raccoons in Los Angeles County periodically. Sick raccoons can contaminate the bowls and transfer the virus to your dog.

If you have additional questions, please contact ESPD Animal Control Officer Joe Camagong at (310) 524-2231 or

El Segundo Police Department
348 Main St
El Segundo, CA 90245

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 310-524-2200

Joe Camagong
Special Operations Division

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