Translate This Page Print This Page Email a Friend Newsletter Sign-Up
Text Size : Sm Med Lg
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 007-10
Tuesday, February 16, 2010

MEDIA CONTACT: (212) 788-5290
Jessica Scaperotti/Celina De Leon: PressOffice@health.nyc.gov


New York City to Vaccinate Raccoons against Rabies in Upper Manhattan

Health Department reminds New Yorkers to avoid wild animals and to vaccinate their pets against rabies

February 16, 2010 – The Health Department announced today that it will start vaccinating raccoons in and around Central Park to protect them and the surrounding community from rabies. Since December, health authorities have documented more than three dozen rabies cases among raccoons in Central Park and Upper Manhattan. The vaccination effort – a collaboration involving the Health Department, the Parks Department, the Central Park Conservancy and the US Department of Agriculture – is an attempt to contain the outbreak. Today, wildlife experts will start humanely trapping raccoons around Central Park, Morningside Park and Riverside Park. Each captured animal will be vaccinated and tagged for identification, then released in the same location. 

The trap-vaccinate-release effort will continue for four to eight weeks, and officials will repeat it next summer to vaccinate raccoons born this spring. Traps will be placed in remote areas to keep pets and park visitors from disrupting them, and each trap will display City contact information for use in emergencies.

Rabies is seen more in raccoons than any other animal in New York City. Besides preventing transmission among raccoons, the vaccination effort will reduce the chance that a rabid raccoon bites or scratches a pet or person. Such occurrences are rare in the city, but the Health Department has documented three exposures since December – one in which a dog was bitten, one in which a person was bitten and one involving a person who tried to nurse a sick raccoon to health. The dog and both people have received post-exposure treatment, and none has become ill.

So far this year, 39 raccoons in Manhattan tested positive for rabies. The Health Department’s rabies surveillance reports are available online and updated regularly.

Number of Rabid Animals Identified in New York City, 2003-2010*

Borough

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Bronx

6

13

26

6

14

13

14

0

Brooklyn

0

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

Manhattan

0

0

0

1

0

0

12

39

Queens

0

0

1

2

1

1

1

0

Staten Island

0

1

0

35

29

4

1

0

January 1 through February 16, 2010

To protect yourself against rabies:

  • Do not touch or feed wild animals, or 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 or your local police precinct to report the animal.
  • Animals that have attacked, or seem likely to attack, should be reported to 911.

To protect your pet against rabies:

  • Make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
  • Keep your dog leashed while outdoors unless at a specified off-leash area or park
  • Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended.
  • Do not try to separate animals that are fighting.
  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian, 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 that 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). You can also file a report online at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vet/vetegp.shtml.
  • For information about medical follow-up, call 311 or your medical provider.

For more information about rabies in New York City, visit www.nyc.gov/health/rabies.