NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Sightings of erratic raccoons have prompted officials at New Orleans City Park to put up warning signs about the infected animals, who can pose a danger to pets.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries told WWL-TV on Monday that the raccoons have canine distemper, a virus that affects a wide variety of mammals and can be deadly to cats and dogs.
Officials from the agency were brought in for an inspection after officials at the park received reports about the erratic raccoons, City Park COO Robert DeVeney said. While the infected animals do not pose a danger to humans, officials are concerned about pets and reminding people to keep their dogs on a leash.
“If you’re letting your dog loose off of the leash and the dog has not been vaccinated against canine distemper, you run the risk of them interacting with one of these sick raccoons,” DeVeney said.
The virus can be transmitted through contact with an infected raccoon or its feces. For many park visitors, the warning signs serves as a reminder to protect their pets. But others are taking it seriously due to other concerns.
“I haven’t seen any, but I am kind of on my guard in case there are some crazy raccoons that are going to nibble at my toes,” Benjamin Dominach told the news outlet.