Health officials warn New Yorkers to vaccinate their pets as angry raccoons appear in Manhattan

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A raccoon licks his lips while eating a bag of stolen sandwich Wednesday, June 22, 2005 at Fort DeSoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Photo: Chris O & # 39; Meara (AP)

The Big Apple is staring at a problem she has not seen in about eight years: angry raccoons in Manhattan.

The New York City Department of Health and Hygiene said Friday that officials have identified four raccoon raccoons around Inwood Hill Park from the start of the year. The health department is now alerting residents to the area to make sure the animals are up to date with the vaccinations.

"Rabies is a serious disease that represents a danger to you and your pets," Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot said in a statement. "Keep an eye on your pets when you take them outside and if you see a wild animal – like a raccoon – keep a safe distance and do not get close." Vaccinate your pets against rabies, and if you think you are been bitten by a rabid animal, call 311. "

While officials have reported the rare Rabbi bat on the island in recent years, there have been no reports of rabid raccoons on the island since 2011, when the city reported having found over 100 rabid raccoons during the year. ;last year. While they have been reported in neighboring neighborhoods, the city's trap-in-release effort has now led to the vaccination of some 500 Manhattan raccoons and has managed to keep the problem under control ever since.

People as well as pets can be infected by rabies and can be fatal if not treated immediately. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that symptoms in humans may reflect those in the flu, including headache, fever and weakness. During the last outbreak, which began in 2009, five people and two dogs were exposed to rabies (although they were cured and rabies did not develop in the population or in the animals).

The health department advises New Yorkers to call the non-emergency line of the city in case they suspect that an animal is ill or appears "disoriented or unusually calm or aggressive". It is also advisable to feed the pets and not left without supervision. Parks for dogs are safe, the health department said, but animals should be kept on a leash outside.

In a statement, Senator Robert Jackson – representing the 31st district of Manhattan – urged island residents with pets to "make sure their pets are up to date on their vaccines." Be careful when you enjoy our beautiful parks, and if you see a wild animal acting strangely, leave the area and call 311. "

[NYC Health via CNN]

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