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Officials at a Wylie animal sanctuary believe a raccoon is to blame for an outbreak of canine distemper among big cats.

In-Sync Exotics says 22 animals including lions and tigers are infected with the potentially fatal virus which can infect the central nervous system.

The sanctuary said several of the cats are showing neurological symptoms.

Raccoons live in the area around the sanctuary. In-Sync is asking for monetary donations as well as cleaning supplies.

The cats are vaccinated against feline distemper, not canine distemper. Fifty percent of dogs that contract distemper die from it.

The illness begins with respiratory and digestive problems. As it progresses to the nervous system, infected animals have trouble walking and experience muscle spasms and seizures.

Infected raccoons have also been found in several neighboring Collin County cities, including McKinney and Plano.

In Tarrant County, Arlington has had raccoons test positive for distemper.

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