Raccoons with 'canine distemper' virus found at Ft. De Soto Park

Pinellas County officials are asking pet parents to stay away from Fort De Soto Park. 

Two raccoons located at the park tested positive for the canine distemper virus. Pinellas County Animal Services is asking people with puppies, older dogs, or dogs with compromised immune systems to stay away from Fort De Soto Park, which is located at 3500 Pinellas Bayway South in Tierra Verde.

Officials said the raccoons are no longer a threat to the area, but they will be testing more animals to determine that the virus is gone. Until the tests come back clean, officials want pet owners and pets to avoid the park. 

The canine distemper virus is contagious, according to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, and can attack the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. They can be found in wildlife, such as raccoons and skunks, and can be spread through airborne exposure.

Any visitor who sees an animal who appears to be sick at Fort De Soto Park should leave the area, and contact a park ranger or call the Parks and Conservation Resources Department at 727-582-2100.