Rabid raccoons discovered in Manhattan for the first time since 2011

MANHATTAN — The Health Department is urging New Yorkers to vaccinate their pets after four raccoons with rabies were identified at a Manhattan park.

The rabid raccoons were seen around Inwood Hill Park since January, according to the Health Department.

Rabid raccoons have not been found in Manhattan since 2011.

New Yorkers are reminded to stay away from raccoons and other wild animals that can carry rabies.

Signs are posted along Inwood Hill Park, warning residents to stay away from the animals.

As of this year, six rabid animals have been identified in New York City, including the four found at or near Inwood Hill Park. One rabid raccoon was found in the Bronx and another in Staten Island.

There are no known bites or exposures to the animals.

“Rabies is a serious illness that poses a danger for you and your pets,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “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.”

In addition to raccoons, other animals that commonly test positive for rabies in New York City include skunks, bats and cats.

How to protect yourself against rabies:

  • Do not touch or feed wild animals, stray dogs or cats.
  • Keep garbage in tightly sealed containers.
  • Respect wildlife. Enjoy them from a distance, and avoid contact with all wild animals as well as stray or unfamiliar dogs and cats.
  • Any animal that seems sick, disoriented or unusually quiet or aggressive should be reported by calling 311.
  • Do not try to separate animals that are fighting.

What happens if you’re bitten by an animal?

  • Immediately wash the wound with soap and water and continue irrigating the wound for 10 to 15 minutes. This will help kill and remove any rabies virus that may have entered the wound.
  • If the exposure was from a dog or cat, try to get the pet owner’s name, address and phone number or get information for any person that may be able to identify the animal.
    • Report dog and cat bites through 311 or to your health care provider. This will help the Health Department follow up with the pet owner.
    • Contact your health care provider and ask if you need to be vaccinated.
  • If bitten by a wild animal, call 311 to report the bite and find out if the animal can be captured and tested for rabies.

Protect yourself against rabies:

  • Make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. If you are unsure, contact your veterinarian. . If you are experiencing financial hardship, please visit the Health Department’s dog licensing pagefor upcoming free vaccine clinics.
  • Keep your dog leashed while outdoors unless at a specified off-leash area or park.
  • Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended.
  • Feed pets indoors.
  • If your pet has been in contact with a raccoon, skunk, bat or any other animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian, and report the incident to 311

For more information about rabies in New York City, visit nyc.gov/health and search “rabies.”

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