Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Important warning

Raccoon near the Delacorte Theater box office
Photo taken two days ago [12/6/09] by Mitchell Nussbaum

The following item appeared on e-birds yesterday [sent in by Dr. Richard Rabkin]:
December 7, 2009

• Three raccoons collected from the northern end of Central Park have tested positive for rabies in 2009, two during the past week.
o A fourth raccoon from Manhattan tested positive in July 2009 but was collected near Inwood Park.
o To date in 2009, 20 animals have tested positive for rabies in NYC; 14 raccoons from the Bronx, 4 raccoons from Manhattan, 1 raccoon from Queens and 1 bat from Staten Island.

I promptly e-mailed Regina Alvarez, the Woodlands Manager and our major source of wildlife information, to ask for confirmation of this item. She responded:

Hi Marie -
Yes, this has been confirmed. Neil [Calvanese] has been talking to the Department of Health and we got the full information yesterday. I am sending out a notice to the Woodland Board mailing list this morning. It would be great if you posted this on your website for people to be informed. It's important to let folks know that no one has been hurt; the raccoons tested were dead raccoons found by our staff. These raccoons get turned in to the Rangers who then send them in for testing. This is the normal protocol we have when we find dead raccoons. I am attaching the official press release to this email as a Word document. Please feel free to share that also. We are posting signs around the park letting the public know what is going on. I have attached that sign as a PDF to this email also in case you want to see what it looks like.
As always Marie, thank you so much for your help and I hope to see you soon.

Here's the Press Release sent out yesterday from the Dep't of Health:


Thomas Farley, M.D., M.P.H.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, December 7, 2009

(212) 788-5290

<>Health Department Cautions New Yorkers to Avoid Wild Animals and
Vaccinate Pets against Rabies

Three rabid raccoons identified in
Central Park in recent months

December 7, 2009
With the identification of three raccoons with rabies in Manhattan’s Central Park in recent months – two during the past week – the Health Department is cautioning New Yorkers to stay away from raccoons, skunks, bats, stray dogs and cats and other wild animals that can carry rabies. The recent cluster of findings suggests that rabies is being transmitted among raccoons in the park. The Health Department is increasing surveillance efforts to determine the extent of the problem.

Raccoons are the most commonly reported rabid animal in New York City. Rabid raccoons are a relatively common occurrence in the Bronx, and many were found in Staten Island in 2006 and 2007. In Queens and Manhattan, rabid raccoons have historically been rare, and rabid raccoons have never been seen in Brooklyn. Bats with rabies have also been found in all five boroughs. So far this year, 20 rabid animals have been identified in New York City – 14 raccoons from the Bronx, 4 raccoons from Manhattan, 1 raccoon from Queens and 1 bat from Staten Island.

People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies, most often from a bite by an infected animal. Infection leads to a severe brain disease that causes death unless the person is treated promptly. Despite the risk, there has not been a human case of rabies in New York City since 1953. To reduce the risk of rabies, New Yorkers should avoid all wild animals, as well as any animal that seems sick, disoriented or unusually placid or aggressive. Report such animals by calling 311. Animals that have attacked or may attack should be reported to 911. Any bite or scratch from a raccoon, or other animal capable of transmitting rabies, requires medical attention.

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 or a wild animal that appears ill or is acting unusually friendly. Call 311 or your local police precinct to report the animal.

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 un-owned and can be captured, call 311.

  • If the animal is a pet, get the owner’s name, address and telephone number to give to the Health Department so they can ensure the animal is not rabid.
  • Call the Animal Bite Unit (212-676-2483) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week to report the bite. You can call 212-POISONS (764-7667) during after hours and on weekends. 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/html/doh/html/vet/vet5.shtml.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Last Thursday it was Spring

Date: Thursday, Dec 3, 2009
Location: The Great Lawn
Temperature : a balmy 66 degrees.

Today it is almost 30 degrees colder. Cherry blossom time is over.