26 raccoons found dead in Central Park: health officials

CENTRAL PARK — At least 26 raccoons have been found dead in Central Park in less than a month, officials said on Monday.

Out of the 26 raccoons collected since June 24, two tested positive for canine distemper virus, an illness that affects dogs and certain species of wildlife including raccoons and skunks.

Health officials said the virus cannot be transferred from animals to humans and there is no concern for pets if their distemper vaccinations are up to date.

The NYC Department of Health said the virus spreads through infected saliva, feces, respiratory discharge or urine.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, infected dogs experience "watery to pus-like discharge from their eyes. They then develop fever, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, reduced appetite, and vomiting."

Raccoons with distemper act "disoriented and lethargic, and they can become aggressive," according to health officials.

Park officials said 13 of the 26 raccoons tested negative for rabies. The results of nine others are still pending.

The most recent dead raccoon was found on Saturday and will be sent out for testing.

The Parks Department is asking the public to call 311 to request NYC Parks Rangers if they see a sick or injured raccoon.