Distemper virus found in Prudence Island raccoon

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island officials are asking dog owners to make sure their pets are vaccinated against distemper, a normally rare disease that's been confirmed in a raccoon on Prudence Island.

The state Department of Environmental Management says canine distemper was recently found after residents reported a large number of raccoons acting strangely and numerous deaths. Authorities ruled out rabies, but tests came back positive for distemper.

The rapidly spreading disease doesn't affect humans but it can infect raccoons, coyotes and foxes.

The state veterinarian is urging dog owners to make sure their pets are properly vaccinated against both distemper and rabies. Signs of the diseases can look identical.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.