‘Zombie raccoons' terrorizing Ohio town

In Youngstown, Ohio, residents have been reporting a very frightening sight: zombie raccoons.

It’s not a horror movie, and it’s definitely not a joke.

One resident told police that he was walking his dog when he noticed he was being followed by a raccoon. The raccoon followed him all the way to his door, got up on its hind legs and showed its teeth. Then, without warning, the raccoon froze and fell over backwards, like it had been paralyzed. The raccoon would then wake up a few moments later, and repeat the same behavior.

More than a dozen residents all over Youngstown have been saying they’ve witnessed the very same behavior from these “zombie raccoons,” and they’ve also been spotted in Illinois.

So what’s happening? Animal experts say, no, they’re not really zombies, even if they act like them. Instead, the raccoons are infected with a disease called “distemper” that causes convulsions and paralysis, removes a raccoon’s fear of humans, and can make usually nocturnal raccoons venture out during the daytime.

Distemper can also affect canines--including dogs--but there is a vaccine.

So, no, it’s not quite the zombie apocalypse, but if you see raccoons acting like extras in “Night of the Living Dead,” you should still be very careful and call police or animal control.