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Raccoons with distemper found in Prospect Park, dog owners warned

Multiple raccoons in the park have tested positive for the canine distemper virus, city officials said. 

Raccoons in Prospect Park have tested positive for

Raccoons in Prospect Park have tested positive for the canine distemper virus, city officials said.  Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock/amadeusamse

Dog owners are being warned to keep their pups on leashes in Prospect Park after at least two raccoons have tested positive for the canine distemper virus, city officials said. 

One of the sick raccoons was found on the east side of the park, while another was found on the Long Meadow on the west side, a parks department spokeswoman said. They were both euthanized and tested positive for distemper, but negative for rabies, she said. 

Two other raccoons were sent for testing. 

The virus cannot spread to humans, but it can spread to unvaccinated dogs if they make contact with infected saliva, feces, respiratory discharge or urine. The parks and health departments have put up signs in Prospect Park advising people to keep dogs on leashes and make sure their pets' vaccinations are up-to-date.

Raccoons that have the virus act lethargic, have a runny nose and eyes, and may appear confused or become aggressive, according to the Health Department. 

The virus was also confirmed in raccoons in Central Park and Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx in recent months.

Anyone who encounters a sick or injured raccoon should call 311.

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