Rabies Spreading Fast in Manhattan Parks; 16 Raccoons Since December
by Avi - January 13, 2010 at 1:25 am -
Between 2003 and 2008, only 1 rabid animal was found in all of Manhattan. In the past month and a half, city health officials have confirmed 16 rabid raccoons in the borough.
The NYC Health Department first raised the alarm about rabies last month after finding four rabid raccoons in Manhattan from the beginning of the year through Dec. 3. But since that release, the virus has continued to spread, mostly in the northern part of Central Park, the health department told the Westside Independent on Tuesday. Rabid raccoons have also been found in Morningside Park. In total, 12 rabid raccoons were found in 2009 (10 in the month of December alone), and four more since the beginning of 2010.
The city is now planning to vaccinate the raccoon populations in Riverside, Central and Morningside Parks to stop the disease from spreading, the health department told us.
Of the 12 rabid raccoons that were found in 2009, two apparently were found outside of parks, according to health department records — one was found on 110th Street and Lenox Avenue and one on West 117th Street and Morningside Avenue.
Last week, the health department sent out an advisory to people living near Morningside Park to let them know about the dangers, and warning people to make sure their pets are vaccinated and kept on leashes. Among the recommendations: stay away from stray animals; keep pets leashed; call 311 if you see any raccoons. Raccoons, skunks, bats, stray dogs and cats are more likely to have rabies than other animals.
No human in New York City has contracted rabies since 1944, but people should still be careful. If you get bitten, here’s the health department’s advice: “If you are bitten by an animal, wash the wound, consult a doctor, and call 311 to report the bite… First, wash the wound with soap and water IMMEDIATELY. Talk to a doctor right away to see if you need tetanus or rabies shots. If you don’t have a regular doctor, go to a hospital emergency room.” (photos by _Paul S_ and Andrew St. Clair via flickr)
Clarification: An original version of this story said the last rabies case was in 1953. That information was released by the NYC Health Department. The department now says the last case was in 1944.