The Ohio Department of Natural Resources believe the animals have distemper, which is transmissible to dogs

By Kelli Bender
April 05, 2018 02:56 PM
Fierce raccoon baring teeth in grass
Credit: Getty

Instead of dealing with Night of the Living Dead, Youngstown, Ohio, residents are trying to figure out how to handle Day of the Creepy Raccoons.

According to WKBN, local police have received “over a dozen” calls from concerned residents who have spotted these nocturnal creatures out during the day acting strangely.

“He would stand up on his hind legs, which I’ve never seen a raccoon do before, and he would show his teeth and then he would fall over backward and go into almost a comatose condition,” Robert Coggeshal told the station about the raccoon he spotted while playing outside with his dog.

The man also said that the animal ignored any attempts to scare it away adding, “He’d come out of it, walk around and then he’d do the same thing again. Get on his hind feet and show his teeth.”

According to TIME, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources believes the alarming raccoons prompting calls to the authorities might be infected with distemper — not rabies, as some may assume. Distemper cannot be contracted by humans, but it is transmissible to canines.

VCA Animal Hospitals defines distemper, also known as canine distemper, as a “highly contagious viral disease of domestic dogs and other animals such as ferrets, skunks and raccoons. It is an incurable, often fatal, multisystemic disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems.”

Distemper is spread through direct contact with the infected animal. Symptoms include “diarrhea, vomiting, a thick yellow discharge from the eyes and nose, cough and, in severe cases, seizures and neurological signs.”

Geoff Westerfield of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources told WKBN that distemper among raccoons usually dies out on it’s own, as those infected succumb to the disease.

When reached for comment about this recent rash of zombie-like raccoons, Youngstown Police Department told PEOPLE they had no comment.