Wildlife Rabies Vaccination Efforts Progressing in New York, Pennsylvania

Wildlife Services, a program within the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, will distribute oral rabies vaccine baits beginning on or about Aug. 28 to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies in portions of western and northern New York. Another baiting program is under way in 14 western Pennsylvania counties.

In cooperation with the New York State Department of Health and key agencies, 845,200 oral rabies vaccination (ORV) baits targeting raccoons will be distributed by several methods over a 5,180 square mile area.

The Pennsylvania effort covers all or parts of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Washington, and Westmoreland counties.

Personnel from Wildlife Services and its cooperators, along with volunteers, will be hand baiting populated areas by vehicle. Fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters will be sued to distribute ORV baits over more rural areas.

The baits are coated with a fishmeal attractant and might be packaged in one-inch square cubes or two-inch plastic sachets. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.

Most sightings of rabid raccoons occur during the spring and summer when people are more likely to come into contact with wildlife. Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the central nervous system in mammals. Signs include unusual, aggressive or calm and "friendly" behavior, an inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma, and finally death.

Equine rabies cases have been reported this year in Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Texas.

Additional information concerning the raccoon oral rabies vaccine program.

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