SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Multiple cases of distemper have been found in wildlife, especially raccoons, in southern Santa Barbara County.

The county Public Health Department said Friday that the public should be alert, keep dogs on leashes, scan yards before letting dogs out and avoid leaving out pet food that can attract wildlife.

Canine distemper is not a threat to people, but unvaccinated dogs can become infected.

The highly contagious disease is caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system.

Infected raccoons typically move slowly, stumble and may appear blind or confused. Health officials say the public should contact county Animal Services if they see wildlife behaving abnormally.

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