The zombie raccoons are back. Okay, they're not really zombies, but they are being labeled as such, and acting erratically thanks to the canine distemper virus. This causes them to growl, gnash their teeth, crawl around in circles, and be out during the day — which is something they usually like to avoid. They have not, however, risen from the dead in any sense of the word. Sorry, Pet Sematary fans.
Patch.com first reported the resurgence of the raccoons, which are currently running amok in the small town of Stickney in northeast Illinois. Animal control has received four calls since the start of the year, and the Stickney Police Department posted a warning to Facebook about avoiding "raccoons that may be acting strange."
There's also some concern that the distemper virus could be infecting skunks, too, though that has not yet been confirmed by local officials.
Last year, there was an uptick of reports around Youngstown, Ohio, which is a good 400+ miles away from the Stickney area. There are also numerous reports about Chronic Wasting Disease, which is affecting deer, moose, and elk in 24 states and a handful of countries around the world and causing the misnomer "zombie deer."
Like distemper, it's not actual zombification at all, but a disease that causes the animals to be stumbly and sallow.
Regardless of the spectacle that these otherwise low-key animals might inadvertently cause, make sure you heed the official advice and keep your distance. Also, if you're a concerned pet owner and you live nearby, make sure they're up to date on their distemper vaccine. Actually, even if you don't live nearby, make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccines. We don't need this virus to spread.