More than two dozen raccoons have been found dead or dying in Central Park over the last month, and health officials are trying to determine why.
Tests revealed at least two have the distemper virus, but none so far have tested positive for rabies, officials said.
“Test results have not discovered any risk to human health,” the city Health Department said in a statement.
The distemper findings were first reported by the New York Post.
Health Department officials said the distemper virus affects dogs, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife. Pet owners should not be concerned, so long as their dogs have recently been vaccinated against the virus.
Raccoons with distemper often appear lethargic, may act disoriented and can be aggressive.
Central Park has a “significant” raccoon population, according to the Parks Department which does not have estimates of exact numbers. In recent years, the raccoons have become more comfortable around park visitors, who often feed them — much to the consternation of wildlife experts.
“It is important to note that this causes no threat to humans as it cannot [sic] be transferred from animals to humans,” the Parks Department said in a statement.
The city embarked on a public awareness campaign two years ago to remind New Yorkers to keep their distance from wildlife.
In all, 26 raccoons have been found in Central Park since June 24. Parks Department officials said 13 of them tested negative for rabies. They are waiting for results on another nine raccoons, and a tenth is yet to be tested. Three were so deteriorated, they could not be tested.
Most of the raccoons were found in northern areas of the park between East 93rd Street and Lenox Avenue.
Anyone who encounters a sick or injured raccoon should call 311 and request help from the city’s Park Rangers.