Rabid Racoons Taking Over Central Park

And, by the way, stay away from skunks, too.

Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009  |  Updated 11:16 AM EDT
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City health officials are warning visitors to the park to avoid wild animals after three rabid raccoons were discovered there, two of them in the past week.

Health officials issued the advisory Monday. They believe rabies is being transmitted among raccoons in the park.

Officials say visitors also should stay away from skunks, bats, and stray dogs and cats.

Dog owners should keep pets on leashes.

Rabid raccoons are rare in Manhattan. But officials say four have been identified so far this year.

Rabies is a viral disease that's usually spread from a bite or scratch by an infected animal. If it's not treated immediately, it can be fatal.

Officials say there hasn't been a human rabies infection in New York City since 1953.

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