Raccoon rabies is found throughout Pennsylvania. It is a viral infection that can affect the nervous system of any mammal, including humans. The disease is almost always fatal to both people and animals. Raccoon rabies spreads rapidly and infects large numbers of raccoons. The disease often spreads to other wildlife and pets, making human exposure a real concern. To address this problem, federal, state and county agencies are participating in a combined program to keep this animal epidemic from spreading further westward by attempting to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, raccoon rabies in western Pennsylvania counties.
The oral rabies vaccine bait consists of vaccine (dyed pink) inside a plastic sachet. The sachet is either coated with a thin fishmeal flavoring or incased into the middle of a square block made from a compressed mixture of fishmeal and fish oil known to attract raccoons. Baits are distributed from vehicles, boats, helicopters or airplanes.
What if I find rabies baits?
Baits should be left alone—but intact baits can be moved if they are found where children and pets play. Damaged baits should be bagged and disposed in the trash.
•Wear gloves or use a plastic bag when picking up the baits.
•Toss intact baits into a fencerow, woodlot, ditch, or other raccoon habitat areas.
•Wash your hands after any skin contact with a damaged bait.
What if my pet eats a bait?
•A few baits are not harmful, although eating a lot may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
•Do not risk getting bitten by taking a bait away from your pet.
•Confine your pet for a couple of days, and check the area for more baits.
•If your pet eats a bait, avoid your pet’s saliva for 24 hours, and wash skin or wounds that may have been licked.
For information about the oral rabies baiting program, contact:
USDA Wildlife Services: 1-866-487-3297
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: 1-717-783-9550
Pennsylvania Department of Health Information Line: 1-877-PA Health
Erie County Department of Health: 1-814-451-6700
For information concerning accidental contact with baits, call 1-877-722-6725.
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