Beginning in late November 2020, Arlington County Animal Control began receiving increased reports of sick and/or deceased raccoons in multiple neighborhoods in North Arlington. Two of these raccoons that appeared sick between November 2020 and February 2021 had been sent for testing as a result of potential contact with a domestic animal. One of those raccoons tested positive for rabies. Rabies is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.
With ongoing issues and reports, Arlington County Animal Control and the Arlington County Department of Human Services arranged for broader testing of six raccoons that were removed showing neurological signs and symptoms in early March 2021. All of the raccoons tested were clinically positive for Canine Distemper.
Distemper is a viral disease that is always present in wildlife populations at varying levels. Raccoons are especially susceptible to canine distemper, as well as foxes, coyotes, skunks, and unvaccinated dogs. This virus does not affect humans. The disease is transmitted when animals have direct contact with infected animals or indirect contact with body fluids/feces from an infected animal.
We are urging residents in North Arlington to be vigilant. This outbreak is no longer contained to a specific neighborhood. We ask that residents ensure their pets are up to date on their rabies and distemper vaccines, keep their dogs on a leash at all times, keep cats inside, and do not approach or feed any wild animals.
We are also encouraging residents to ensure they remove wildlife attractants from their yard such as unsecured garbage cans, open containers of food and compost, and to feed pets inside. We urge anyone who sees a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive to STAY AWAY from the animal and call Animal Control immediately: 703-931-9241. If you come across a deceased raccoon in your yard or a public space please contact Animal Control promptly.