USDA Begins 2011 Oral Rabies Vaccine Efforts in Eastern United States
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2011--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) wildlife services (WS) program will begin its 2011 distribution of oral rabies vaccine baits in select areas along the East Coast in an effort to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies.
With their cooperators, WS will begin distributing the oral rabies vaccination baits by hand and by aircraft beginning on or about Aug. 15. The baits will be distributed in the following select areas:
The National Rabies Management Program was established in recognition of the changing scope of rabies. The goal of the program is to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies and eventually eliminate terrestrial rabies in the United States through an integrated program that includes vaccinating wildlife against the disease.
Oral rabies vaccination baits are coated with a fishmeal attractant and may 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. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits may experience an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks. Should contact with baits occur, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap. For photos of the vaccination baits, please visit www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/
Most sightings of rabid raccoons occur during the spring and summer months when people are more likely to come into contact with wildlife. Raccoon rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals. Signs suggestive of rabies include unusual, aggressive or calm and “friendly” behavior, an inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma and finally death. While rabies is fatal, human exposures can be successfully treated, if treatment is sought immediately following a bite.
Since, 1995, WS has been working cooperatively with local, state and federal governments, universities and other partners to address this public health problem by distributing oral rabies vaccination baits in targeted areas. This cooperative program targets the raccoon variant in the eastern United States, and unique variants of rabies in coyotes and foxes in Texas and Arizona.
For additional information concerning the raccoon oral rabies vaccine program, please visit www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/
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