Gray fox tests positive for often deadly distemper, prompting warning for Colorado pet owners


Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued a warning to pet owners on Friday after the carcass of a gray fox was found in La Plata County tested positive for canine distemper, according to a department news release.

Canine distemper (CDV) is a disease that affects wild and domestic carnivores, such as red foxes, coyotes, gray foxes, skunks, ferrets, raccoons, minks and dogs. The disease is transmissible by direct contact with an infected animal, according to the CPW.

The gray fox was transported in a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Health Lab in Fort Collins for official testing and was confirmed positive.

“We have had a number of reports and the one we submitted for testing came back positive for distemper,” CPW area wildlife manager Adrian Archuleta of Durango said in a statement. Press..

“In these cases, any other La Plata County fox showing symptoms is presumed to be positive for canine distemper,” he said.

Here are some tips on how to prevent dogs from coming into contact with the virus, provided by CPW:

  • Make sure your pets are up to date with their vaccinations.
  • Keep your dogs on a leash when walking them.
  • Do not let pets interact with wild animals.
  • Don’t let wildlife frequent your garden.
  • Avoid keeping water and food bowls outside to limit possible contamination.
  • Teach children not to touch any wild animals.

“The signs of CDV are not always the same and depend on the species and how long the animal has been infected. Sick animals often have difficulty moving and may act abnormally due to brain infections. Crusts around the eyes and/or nose are commonly seen, while other signs such as coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, and thickened paw pads tend to be less obvious,” the statement said.

In many cases, the disease is fatal.

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