Health Care

OH police investigating more than a dozen reports of 'zombie-like' raccoons

OH police investigating more than a dozen reports of 'zombie-like' raccoons

Lately in Youngstown, Ohio, raccoons' tiny, nimble, human-like hands are only the second scariest thing about them. Investigating officers say that rabies is not the cause of these incidents.

The Associated Press reports, via WKBN-TV in northeast OH, that photographer Robert Coggeshall was playing with his dogs outside when a raccoon approached them, stood on its hind legs, show its teeth and then fell over backward.

He said the animal followed him and his dog to his door, so he made a decision to photograph the raccoon stepping on its hind legs. Youngstown police say the raccoon is one of more than a dozen oddly behaving raccoons reported in the Youngstown area over the past three weeks.

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Once inside, the wildlife photographer grabbed his camera to document what he called "extremely unusual behavior".

"He then showed his teeth and would fall over backwards to go into nearly a comatose condition".

If this diagnosis is correct, raccoons baring their teeth at Youngstown people and pets aren't threatening to eat their brains - they're experiencing facial muscle spasms as their nervous systems escape their conscious control.

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He attempted to scare the raccoon away, only to find the animal was not interested in leaving. It soon awoke from its lethargy, walked around for a bit, then got back up on its hind feet again. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said that the animals were probably suffering from distemper, rather than rabies.

"I had Buddy and Corbin outside in my front yard when a drooling raccoon appeared nearby", Coggeshall wrote in a Facebook post, sharing picture of the sick raccoon in his garden.

He said diseases like this stay local and eventually die off.

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Ohio's Department of Natural Resources has been euthanizing raccoons believed to be infected with the disease, which causes convulsions and paralysis, erases a raccoon's fear of humans, and often sees the nocturnal animals venture out in daylight.


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