Reports of "zombie-like" raccoons puzzle Youngstown police

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Reports of "zombie-like" raccoons puzzle Youngstown police

"As if we don't have enough to worry about, now it's zombie raccoons", said NBC Chicago's Patrick Fazio, while reporting that the medium-sized mammals are said to be suffering from a very angry-sounding virus known as "distemper".

Recently police officers in the city of Youngstown, Ohio found themselves dealing with a new and unusual problem - raccoons that behave like zombies, WKBN-TV reports.

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.

One of Robert Coggeshall's beagles eye-balls the raccoon through the back door.

A small town has been plagued by terrifying "zombie-like" raccoons that walk towards people on their hind legs with their teeth bared.

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

The erratic behaviour was even more freakish because it was displayed during daylight hours.

The animals' behavior was so odd that residents dubbed them "zombie raccoons", displaying signs of what authorities said was likely a viral disease called distemper.

Distemper could cause brain damage that is what more likely leads to the fearless behavior of the raccoons.

"I quickly got the dogs inside, quickly pursued by the raccoon". A rep says distemper "can be devastating to the population" but less susceptible raccoons will help the population balloon again.

While humans can occasionally be infected, they rarely display any symptoms.

It does not affect humans, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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.