TIERRE VERDE — As a precautionary measure, Pinellas County Animal Services is advising pet owners to refrain from bringing puppies, senior dogs, unvaccinated dogs or dogs that may have compromised immune systems to Ft. De Soto Park, 3500 Pinellas Bayway S., St. Petersburg, until further notice.
This recommendation is due to the discovery of two raccoons that tested positive for canine distemper virus.
Pinellas County Animal Services has received no reports of exposures to pets from the infected raccoons. The tested raccoons no longer pose a threat to park visitors and pets. Pet owners should continue to avoid the park until further tests on other raccoons are completed.
Park visitors who encounter an animal that appears sick should immediately leave the area, contact a park ranger or call the Parks and Conservation Resources department at 727-582-2100.
Animal Services reminds pet owners to keep vaccinations for their dogs and cats up to date to prevent the spread of diseases. Pet owners can get their pets vaccinated at their private veterinary clinic.
Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog’s gastrointestinal, respiratory and central nervous systems, as well as eye membranes. The first signs of canine distemper include sneezing, coughing and thick mucus coming from the eyes and nose. Fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite are also symptoms of the virus.
Pet owners are urged to seek immediate medical attention if their pets exhibit these symptoms. The virus spreads rapidly and must be aggressively treated as soon it is discovered.
Pinellas County Animal Services is at 12450 Ulmerton Road in Largo. To learn more about the shelter, visit www.pinellascounty.org/animalservices or call 727-582-2600.