Last spring, a small Ohio town was flooded with sightings of "zombie raccoons." The normally-nocturnal animals were coming out during the day, standing up on their hind legs, and angrily staggering around with their teeth bared like Walking Dead cosplayers or whatever. At the time, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources blamed the strange behavior on a disease called "distemper" and, eventually, reports died down. But it looks like we haven't seen the end of the looming raccoon-ocalypse just yet—because zombie raccoons have now invaded New York City.
According to the New York Post, reports of New York raccoons with the distemper virus first started popping up back in July, but since then, it seems like the zombie raccoon epidemic has only been spreading. Now, the corpses of almost 200 raccoons believed to have been affected by the distemper virus have been recovered in parks across the city, from Central Park to Brooklyn's Prospect Park to Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx.
The distemper virus is fatal and highly contagious for raccoons and can also spread to dogs and other animals like skunks and ferrets, PetMD reports. It will first make the infected animal confused and sometimes aggressive, causing "attacks of hysteria" and other strange, zombie-like behavior before eventually killing the animal entirely.
Authorities in New York are working to contain the distemper outbreak, according to the Post, collecting the corpses of raccoons that have already succumbed to distemper and trying to round up sick animals before they spread the disease. For now, though, it looks like they haven't been able to get a handle on the spreading problem and zombie raccoons are still on the loose. Just last month, a sick raccoon had to be picked up at Central Park, one of almost 70 the park has seen in recent months.
Luckily, the disease can't spread to humans—at least not until it mutates or something —so this probably isn't the start of a full-blown apocalypse just yet. But if you live in NYC, keep your dogs on their leashes if you're walking through the park, or else you might wake up to a zombie dog barking for brains at the foot of your bed. Prepare your melee weapons. You have been warned.
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