As Mother Nature continues to enact her vengeance on the metropolitan area at large through the spread of a virus transforming peaceful park-dwelling raccoons into aggressive zombie creatures, two people have now been directly injured by infected animals.
According to West Side Rag, a local dog owner attempting to separate her pet from a raving raccoon was bitten by the animal last Wednesday, and a separate dog owner was bitten and scratched on Thursday.
NY1 obtained footage of Thursday’s incident, showing what appears to be an adult Carl Grimes facing off against one of the Crawling Dead.
CAPTURED: @Van_Tieu spotted this raccoon as rangers nabbed it Thursday in Central Park. Officials say it bit a woman after her dogs chased it. The city is advising dogs to stay on leashes in the park due to an outbreak of the distemper virus among raccoons. pic.twitter.com/OStKrB5CLi— Spectrum News NY1 (@NY1) August 9, 2018
So far, eighty-five raccoons in the park have been sickened or killed as a result of the canine distemper virus outbreak which began in June. The distemper virus has no effect on humans but can possibly be transmitted to unvaccinated dogs. As a result, the city is now advising dog owners to keep their pets leashed while in the park:
“NYC Parks and Health Department, in relation to the distemper outbreak affecting raccoons in Central Park, today issued an advisory strongly recommending that visiting dogs be kept on leashes. The two agencies are specifically concerned about dogs in the park during dusk and dawn, off-leash hours, after two incidents where dogs had encounters with raccoons. Parks and Health have been working in coordination since raccoons in the park first tested positive for the virus... If the public sees a sick or injured raccoon they are asked to call 311 and request the NYC Parks Rangers to address."
Raccoons infected by the virus can exhibit symptoms ranging from appearing confused and shaking to losing coordination and becoming aggressive.
On a positive-for-2018 note, the Health Department is continuing to stress that none of the raccoons have yet been found to be carrying the rabies virus.