The Nosara Animal Refuge has found at least seven cases of animals infected with a fatal, airborne virus called distemper in the last six weeks, four raccoons and three foxes.
“The animals were all put down,” said Brenda Bombard, director of the refuge. “We also tested one of the foxes after euthanizing it, and the test came back positive for distemper.”
Also called Canine Distemper Virus, or CDV, the virus transmits itself through infected bodily fluids and tissues. Carnivorous animals are especially susceptible to infection because they kill and eat other infected animals. It attacks the immune system of the infected animal, leaving it open to opportunistic infections.
“It's not dangerous for humans,” said Dr. Laura Brenes, a MINAE veterinarian at the Silvestre Ostional National Refuge. “But it's fatal for dogs, most of the time the dog will die or it will have nervous system problems for the rest of it's life.”
Symptoms to watch for are pus-like discharges from the animal's eyes and nose, coughing, fever, diarrhea, and crusting of the wet skin around nostrils. Neurological effects present as seizures, paralysis, aimless wandering and lack of coordination.
“That's why it is really important that owners vaccinate their dogs, especially puppies” , Brenes said. “The worst affected are wild animals, because they aren't vaccinated against diseases.”
Making sure that man's best friend is properly vaccinated is the only way to combat this potentially fatal disease, and if you have any concerns it's best to speak with your local veterinarian