Rabid Raccoons Raise Health Concerns In Manhattan

New Yorkers fear rabid raccoons running rampant in Manhattan could pose a potential health risk.

A raccoon sticks his tongue out.
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New Yorkers fear rabid raccoons running rampant in Manhattan could pose a potential health risk.

New York has a new problem on its hands that could pose a potential health risk to citizens and their pets. Rabid raccoons have been running rampant through Manhattan. Since the start of the year, officials have already been alerted to four rabid raccoons around Inwood Hill Park. If bitten by these animals, you or your pets could be in serious danger, according to Gizmodo. If left untreated, rabies can be fatal. Health officials are now encouraging New Yorkers to be on the lookout for these animals and ensure their pets are vaccinated.

Rabid animals are typically pretty easy to spot. They often act disoriented and look visibly ill. They can be more aggressive and less scared of people than would be considered normal. New York has had reports of an occasional rabid bat throughout the years, but this is the first time rabid raccoons have been a threat to the public since 2009.

From 2009 to 2011, there was a particularly bad outbreak. During that time period, officials captured 138 rabid raccoons in and around Central Park. These animals had to be vaccinated before they could be released back into the wild, according to CNN.

It’s essential to notify health officials if you spot a rabid raccoon to prevent another outbreak. Particularly in New York where there is high traffic in the major parks, these animals pose a serious risk to all who come in contact with them. All it takes is getting too close to an infected animal and getting bitten by them to contract rabies.

New York Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot warned New Yorkers to take this issue seriously and take preventative measures to avoid infection. Making sure pets are up to date on their shots can protect not only the pets, but their owner’s health as well.

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“Rabies is a serious illness that poses a danger for you and your pets. Keep a close eye on your pets when you take them outside and if you see a wild animal — such as a raccoon — maintain a safe distance and do not approach it. Get your pets vaccinated against rabies, and if you think they’ve been bitten by a rabid animal, call 311.”

Senator Robert Jackson wants citizens to know that they shouldn’t be afraid to take advantage of New York’s expansive parks. However, they should do so with caution.

“The city has done a great job keeping our wildlife free from rabies, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas.”