Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jola Szubielski, Kirstan Conley 518-457-0752

August 08, 2018

New York State Department of Agriculture Reminds New Yorkers to Keep Their Animal Vaccinations Up to Date

Amidst Reports of Canine Distemper Virus in NYCís Central Park, State Experts Recommend Vaccinating Pets and Avoiding Wildlife Exhibiting Signs of Illness

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is today reminding pet owners to make sure their cats and dogs are up to date with their vaccinations and to avoid wildlife exhibiting signs of illness amidst numerous reports of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) affecting raccoons in Central Park, New York City.

CDV is believed to be the cause of death of nearly 70 raccoons in Central Park. CDV does not cause human illness, but it can affect dogs. New Yorkers are reminded to never handle wildlife, especially wildlife that exhibits neurological signs or other symptoms of illness. Pets’ contact with wildlife should be limited as well.

State Veterinarian Dr. David Smith said, “Since there is no cure for distemper in animals and the illness is often deadly, the best treatment is always prevention. That’s why we’re urging pet owners to limit their animals’ contact with wildlife and keep their pet’s vaccinations up to date.”

Pets at highest risk are those that are not vaccinated against the disease. Pet owners who are unsure of the status of their animals’ vaccines should contact their veterinarians to verify vaccination status for CDV. 

CDV cases are not uncommon in fox, raccoons and skunks, and are typically seen in the spring and the fall.  The signs of the virus are similar to rabies.  Distemper is spread by the nose and mouth of sickened animals. The virus can be shed for weeks or months after infection. Signs can include: coughing; discharge from the eyes and nose; difficulty breathing; vomiting; diarrhea; lethargy (appearing tired); weakness; twitching; blindness; seizures; and a loss of fear of humans and other animals.

Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has reported recent cases of CDV in grey fox, raccoons and skunks in Herkimer, Rensselaer, Lewis and Niagara counties as well.

2018 Press Releases