Nearly 200 ‘zombie’ raccoons die in New York City

The virus can affect dogs as well, but is not known to harm humans

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 01 October 2018 16:45
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At least 176 raccoons have been found with the virus
At least 176 raccoons have been found with the virus

At least 176 raccoons have died from a disease that has left the animals in a zombie-like state before their deaths in Central Park.

The death toll could soon rise, too, as more raccoons are identified as having the disease in New York City.

Authorities believe that the animals have the canine distemper virus, which could affect unvaccinated dogs but is not known to impact humans. All of the animals that were found with the disease are being humanely euthanised, according to officials.

The affected raccoons are described as being zombie-like because of their strange behaviour when they are affected by the virus. They begin to act weird and will appear to be confused, before they lose coordination, consciousness, then die.

The New York City Parks Department says that the most recently affected raccoons were found in a dog park, a BBQ area, and in a children’s play area.

The disease may also be spreading from Central Park in Manhattan to other areas of the city.

Authorities have tested a raccoon that they found in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, for instance, which was found acting disoriented and with crusty eyes.

“While the collection of sick raccoons has slowed in Central Park, the outbreak has not yet been deemed ended,” a New York City Parks Department spokesperson told the New York Post.

In the meantime, the Parks Department has issued a leash warning in parts of the city - warning dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash - and will maintain that warning until a month has passed in which no new sick animals area identified.

The most recent sickly raccoon that was positively identified by the city was found on September 7.

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