Immune Response in the Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) to Modified Live Canine Distemper and Feline Panleukopenia Vaccines


  • Anne Staudenmaier College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Erica Miller DVM College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
  • Joseph Dubovi MA, PhD College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University



Canine distemper, panleukopenia, parvovirus, Procyon lotor, vaccine–induced immunity


The common raccoon, Procyon lotor, while in a separate family from the dog and cat, is susceptible to diseases traditionally associated with these domestic small animals. Thus, the species’ potential for transmitting these devastating diseases back to these small domestic animals should not be ignored. Though vaccinating wild raccoons for canine distemper and feline panleukopenia has been a common practice in wildlife rehabilitation for the past few decades, little is known about the actual efficacy of these vaccines. The purpose of this study was to investigate the antibody titers produced by a commonly used vaccination protocol in wild raccoons for canine distemper and the parvoviruses. Pre‒ and post‒vaccination blood was taken from 49 orphaned raccoons brought to Mercer County Wildlife Center in Titusville, New Jersey, and samples were sent to Cornell University for titer determination. Animals with low pre‒vaccination antibody levels showed appreciable rises in titers for canine distemper. For the parvovirus family, while still protective in most cases, titer rise was much less dramatic, and in two cases, vaccine failure was noted. Raccoons presenting with positive titers pre‒vaccination—most likely due to maternal colostral protection—did not develop a significant immunological response to vaccination if titers were above 1:192, suggesting that colostral antibodies may persist long enough to interfere with current vaccination schedules used by rehabilitation centers and protocols may need to be adjusted to extend for longer time periods.


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Author Biographies

Anne Staudenmaier, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Anne Staudenmaier Anne Staudenmaier is a fourth–year student currently completing her veterinary doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

Erica Miller DVM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Erica Miller, is a wildlife veterinarian with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife. She is a past president and former board member of NWRA.

Joseph Dubovi MA, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

Joseph Dubovi, MA, PhD is the Director of the virology laboratory at Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center and professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. He has authored numerous journal articles relating to wildlife medicine.


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How to Cite

Staudenmaier, A., Miller, E., & Dubovi, J. (2014). Immune Response in the Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor) to Modified Live Canine Distemper and Feline Panleukopenia Vaccines. Wildlife Rehabilitation Bulletin, 32(1), 23–30.



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