The Health Department announced today that it will start vaccinating raccoons in several northern Manhattan parks.
The vaccination effort – a collaboration between the Health Department, NYC Parks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is in response to finding four rabid raccoons from the Inwood Hill Park area this year, the last of which was reported on March 4. Wildlife experts will humanely trap raccoons in Inwood Hill, Isham, Fort Tryon, Fort Washington, and Riverbank Parks and the northern section of Central Park.
The vaccination effort – a collaboration between the Health Department, NYC Parks and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – is in response to finding four rabid raccoons from the Inwood Hill Park area this year, the last of which was reported on March 4. Wildlife experts will humanely trap raccoons in Inwood Hill, Isham, Fort Tryon, Fort Washington, and Riverbank Parks and the northern section of Central Park. Each captured animal will be vaccinated and tagged for identification, then released in the same location. The trap-vaccinate-release (TVR) effort will begin on April 15 and continue for two weeks. Traps will be placed in remote areas, and each trap will display contact information for use in emergencies. In addition, the oral rabies vaccine (ORV) is being used to vaccinate raccoons in areas where it is difficult to set traps.
“This is a preventative measure to ensure that our residents remain safe,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Rabies is a serious illness, so I encourage New Yorkers to vaccinate their pets and keep a close eye on them when outdoors and to respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance.”
“Raccoons are a natural part of our city,” said Sarah Aucoin, Chief of Education & Wildlife for NYC Parks. “Although it’s very rare to come into contact with a rabid raccoon, we want to remind all New Yorkers that if you see a raccoon, you should give them space – never approach or try to feed them. We’re grateful for the Department of Health and USDA for taking this preventative measure to encourage healthier wildlife in our parks.”
“This cooperative effort is a measure to help keep Manhattan rabies-free,” said Allen Gosser, USDA’s Wildlife Services New York State Director. “But we also need help from New Yorkers. Contacting local authorities when you see animals acting strange and vaccinating your pets helps prevent the spread of rabies.”
“It is important to maintain our parks safe for our children and families,”
“It is important to maintain our parks safe for our children and families,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Our parks are a place where we spend valuable time with our loved ones, ensuring that they are kept safe from dangerous diseases like rabies is very important.”
Rabies is a preventable viral disease that is transmitted to people and other animals through the bite of an infected animal. Though rare, people can get rabies if a rabid animal’s saliva or nerve tissue gets directly into their eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Rabies affects the brain and is considered fatal.
- Raccoons live in New York City and if seen during the day, they should not be considered. dangerous or assumed to carry rabies.
- Do not feed raccoons.
- Observe raccoons from a distance.
- Vaccinate your pets, make sure their vaccinations are up to date and keep them leashed.
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To protect yourself against rabies:
- Do not touch or feed wild animals, stray dogs or cats.
- Keep garbage in tightly sealed containers.
- Stay away from any animal that is behaving aggressively.
- Stay away from any wild animal that appears ill or acts unusually friendly. Call 311 to report a sick animal.
- Animals that have attacked, or seem likely to attack, should be reported to 911.
- Do not try to separate animals that are fighting.
To protect your pet against rabies:
- Make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. If you are experiencing financial hardship, please visit the DOHMH dog licensing page (https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/dog-licenses.page) for upcoming free vaccine clinics.
- Keep your dog leashed while outdoors.
- Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended.
- If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian immediately and report the incident to 311.
- Feed pets indoors.
If you are bitten or scratched by an animal:
- Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and water.
- Seek medical care from your health care provider.
- If the animal is not owned and can be captured, call 311.
- If the animal is a pet, get the owner’s name, address and telephone number so the Health Department can monitor the animal.
- To report a bite, call the Animal Bite Unit (212-676-2483) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week. At night or on weekends, call 212-POISONS (764-7667).
- For information about medical follow-up, call 311 or your medical provider.
If an ORV bait is found:
- ORV baits are small white packets covered in fishmeal. The packet contains a pink liquid which is the vaccine.
- The baits are not harmful to dogs or cats, but a pet may vomit if they eat a large number of them. Do not try to remove a packet from an animal’s mouth.
Intact baits are not harmful if people come into contact with them. Call the Poison Control Center at 212-764-7667 (212-POISONS) in the unlikely event that a person has direct skin exposure to the pink liquid vaccine. Instruct the exposed person to wash hands immediately with soap and water and/or an alcohol-based preparation.
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