Rabid Raccoon Problem Appears to be Getting Better

by - July 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm -

A rabies outbreak in Central Park that began last year has apparently begun to dissipate after the New York City Parks Department, the USDA and other agencies vaccinated hundreds of raccoons in New York’s parks.

raccoonWe’ve written about the rabies problem numerous times since it first came to light in December, including running a column in April from our outdoors columnist Melissa. So far this year, the city has found 114 raccoons, most of them in Central Park. For comparison’s sake, there was only one rabid animal found in Manhattan between 2003 and 2008. Two people and a dog were bitten or otherwise exposed to rabid raccoons in December and January, but since then no one has reported rabies exposure.

But the rabies problem appears to be going away. After counting 23 rabid raccoons in January, the city found only 2 last month. “There was a big dent put in the outbreak,” Dr. Sally Slavinski, Assistant Director of the NYC Health Department’s Zoonotic and Vector borne disease unit, told the Daily News last week.

raccoon3News organizations that missed the original story are treating the story from the Daily News as if it were alarming news. “Rabid Raccoon Alert in Central Park” screamed the local ABC News affiliate. That headline, and numerous others like it in recent days, is about 6 months late. The fact that the parks department hasn’t noticed new dead rabid raccoons since June 8, according to the city’s website tracking the outbreak, indicates that the outbreak has probably slowed significantly.

Anyway, stay wary folks. There are probably still rabid raccoons out there. Check out a map of where they’ve been found here (pdf). And read all our rabid raccoon coverage here.

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