Distemper in skunks has Windsor residents concerned
A growing number of skunks in Windsor are showing signs of distemper and that has some people worried about their pets.
When Kyle Reid saw a skunk sauntering across the street from him, he knew something was wrong.
"Just the fact they're never out during the day. The way he was lumping around ... he would walk a couple of steps and then he would shake," Reid said.
He recorded video of the skunk, which walked in circles on a sidewalk. He also called the Humane Society to see what was wrong with the animal.
Reid was told it was distemper.
Distemper is a viral disease found in mammals like dogs, cats, skunks and raccoons. It's transmitted through saliva. And its symptoms are similar to those of rabies. However, the two diseases are not linked.
Melanie Coulter, with the Windsor-Essex Humane Society, said the increase in distemper is normal at this time of year.
"They've gone through a long winter, so they have less ability to fight it off, plus they're interacting with more animals as they're going off to get new territories," Coulter explained. "So that sets up for peak of disease."
Although animals with distemper act like those with rabies, Coulter said there has not been a case of rabies in a skunk, raccoon or dog "for many years."
Reid and his neighbours are still concerned about their own pets, dogs in particular.
"Cats would run for the hills, but a dog would dart after that. If you're in my yard and I'm a dog, I'm coming to get you," he said. "I know many people in the neighbourhood that have been sprayed."
The best remedy for distemper is prevention, Coulter said. Experts say it's always better and cheaper to prevent rather than treat.