The blight of the living-dead raccoons isn’t over.
At least 176 Central Park raccoons have now perished in an outbreak of a virus that causes them to act like “zombies” – and three more from Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx were recently infected.
The critters are believed to have had the canine distemper virus, a fatal illness that can’t affect humans but may spread to unvaccinated dogs, officials said. Any sick raccoons found were humanely euthanized.
Raccoons with distemper will act weird, appearing tame or confused before losing their coordination, becoming unconscious and often dying. Some may even get aggressive.
The Pelham Bay Park “zombie” raccoons were found between Aug. 18 and Sept. 13 in the dog run, a BBQ area and the Playground for All Children, according to the Parks Department.
A disoriented raccoon with crust on its eyes was found in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park on Thursday and sent for testing for the disease, which requires animals be euthanized. Two other sick raccoons from Riverside Park on the Upper West Side tested negative for canine distemper virus earlier this month.
Authorities don’t believe the Pelham Bay cases are related to the outbreak in Central Park, where the first infected raccoon was found June 24. But pet owners are still advised to keep their dogs on a leash at both parks.
The last sickly Central Park raccoon was collected Sept. 7. The leash warning will be in place until a month passes without new cases.
“While the collection of sick raccoons has slowed in Central Park, the outbreak has not yet been deemed ended,” parks spokeswoman Kelly Krause said.
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