Chicago-area police warn of 'zombie raccoons' with distemper

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The warning about "zombie raccoons" may sound like something out of a bad television show, but a suburban Chicago police department says they present serious dangers to family pets.

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The critters are called zombies because those carrying the distemper virus often stagger on their hind legs and bare their teeth. Riverside's police department says if they bite dogs they can transmit the serious disease that can cause respiratory and gastrointestinal problems and affect the nervous system.

The department issued its warning after fielding calls about raccoons acting oddly and says anyone who sees such an animal should call police. Chief Tom Weitzel tells the Chicago Tribune that officers will put the animals down and public works crews will dispose of their carcasses.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com

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