Rabies vaccine baits to be dropped in Western Erie County

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Rabies vaccine baits will be dropped in Western Erie County over the next few weeks.

The Erie County Department of Health announced Wednesday that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services will drop baits containing rabies vaccines meant for raccoons starting Thursday, August 19.

The rabies vaccine baits will be dropped from low-flying helicopters over a 16-mile area on the western border of Erie County, including Albion, Springfield, Lake City, Girard and Fairview.

The goal is to keep the rabies epidemic among wildlife from spreading further westward by attempting to reduce or eliminate it in western Pennsylvania counties.

Rabies is a viral infection that can affect the nervous system of any mammal, including humans.

It is almost always fatal.

Rabies spreads quickly and infects large numbers of raccoons. The disease can also spread to other wildlife and pets, which makes human exposure a concern.

The vaccine baits allow racoons to develop antibodies against rabies.

Two vaccines will be used this year, the ONRAB vaccine baits will be used for the first time in Western
Pennsylvania. It can be identified as a dark green blister pack with a black label on the lid and a waxy coating
with a colorless liquid vaccine inside.

The Raboral-V-RG vaccine bait has been utilized in Pennsylvania since 2001 and consists of pink-colored liquid vaccine in a plastic sachet that is coated with thin fishmeal or vanilla flavoring which is known to attract raccoons.

The health department recommends to leave vaccine baits alone if you find them.

  • If an intact bait is found where children and pets play, it can be tossed into a fencerow, woodlot, ditch or other raccoon habitat area.
  • Gloves or a plastic bag should be used to pick up the baits and hands should be washed after any skin contact with bait.
  • Damaged baits should be bagged and disposed of in the trash.
  • If your pet eats a bait, it will not be harmed, but may vomit or have diarrhea if several baits are ingested.
  • Confine your pet while checking the area for more bait, and avoid your pet’s saliva for 24 hours after ingestion.
  • Wash skin or wounds that may have been licked. Do not risk being bitten by taking bait away from your pet.

For more information about the oral raccoon rabies baiting program, contact:
• USDA Wildlife Services: 1-866-487-3297
• Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: 1-717-783-9550
• Pennsylvania Department of Health: 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-722-6725)
• Erie County Department of Health: 1-814-451-6700

For more information about accidental human contact with baits, call Pennsylvania Department of Health at 1-877-722-6725.

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