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Canada Police warn of ‘virus’ after reports of raccoon bite in Scarborough

02:26  12 february  2018
02:26  12 february  2018 Source:   thestar.com

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Though Toronto police tweeted Sunday about a “virus” spreading in the city after a man said he was chased and bitten by a raccoon he suspected was rabid, Toronto Animal Services could provide no confirmation of a bite and said they suspected distemper, not rabies.

Just after 10 a.m., Toronto police responded to a call from a man in the St. Clair Ave. and Danforth Rd. area, south of Scarborough. According to police, the man said he had been bitten by a raccoon that chased him and he believed the animal was rabid. Toronto police spokesperson Const. David Hopkinson tweeted that Toronto Animal Services had been called.

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He later updated with a second tweet that the raccoon had been caught and Animal Services advised police that “there is a virus spreading through south end of the city.”

Hopkinson tweeted that Animal Services notified police that they had “picked up numerous raccoons over the past few days” and ended the tweet by adding: “*Community advised to be cautious.*”

Tammy Robbinson, a spokesperson for Toronto Animal Services wrote in an email to the Star that it is suspected the raccoon that was caught had canine distemper.

She also said she had spoken with the on-call manager for Toronto Animal Services, and that “there has been no confirmation of a bite,” adding that if people see sick or injured wildlife they should call 311.

“The gentleman who encountered the raccoon told our dispatch officer that the raccoon walked into the bus shelter,” Robbinson said.

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Animal Services will not know for certain whether the raccoon captured does have distemper until after it has been tested, which takes a number of days, she said.

Toronto police warned residents to be cautious around raccoons Sunday after responding to a call in Scarborough where a man said he had been chased and bitten by a raccoon he feared was rabid.© Keith Beaty Toronto police warned residents to be cautious around raccoons Sunday after responding to a call in Scarborough where a man said he had been chased and bitten by a raccoon he feared was rabid.

“Over the last few years, there have been hundreds of cases of distemper in raccoons — in all parts of Toronto. Raccoons with distemper often appear sick and/or display unusual behaviour, but there is no harm to humans. They may behave aggressively if they are sick, disturbed from their den, are being protective or feel threatened. People should ensure dogs have annual vaccines.”

Robbinson said despite reports to police, “raccoon distemper is not on the rise. We have seen the same levels for the last few years.”

Canine distemper originates in dogs, but can be spread to other animals, including raccoons and skunks. The virus attacks the central nervous system, often resulting in unusual behaviour.

While humans are immune, dogs that have not been vaccinated for distemper can become infected by raccoons carrying the disease.

With files from Metro News

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