CA Officials Warn Dog Owners of Unusual Rise in Distemper Virus in Wildlife

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A skunk is seen in a file photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

A skunk is seen in a file photo. (Credit: Getty Images)

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California authorities are warning pet owners of an unusually high number of canine distemper virus cases in wildlife populations statewide.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday that unvaccinated domestic dogs can contract the disease through contact with food or water bowls that infected wildlife can access.

Canine distemper virus can infect a wide range of carnivores but gray foxes, raccoons and skunks are the most commonly affected species.

Fish and Wildlife officials said pet owners should be vigilant about keeping their animals from coming into contact with wildlife.

They noted that just as wild animals can spread distemper to domestic dogs, an unvaccinated pet dog can spread the virus to wildlife.

Distemper can cause respiratory, neurologic and gastrointestinal illness.

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