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USDA begins 2012 oral rabies vaccine efforts in eastern U.S.

by jmaloni
Mon, Aug 20th 2012 04:30 pm
Photo courtesy of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Photo courtesy of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

Depending on the weather, the USDA is expected to start air operations in the Niagara and Erie counties on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

To foster its goal of preventing the further spread of wildlife rabies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's wildlife services program has begun its 2012 distribution of oral rabies vaccine baits in select areas along the East Coast. This effort seeks to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies.

With their cooperators, WS has begun distributing the oral rabies vaccination baits by aircraft and by hand.

The baits will be distributed in the following select areas and time periods.

In Northeast to Mid-Atlantic States, between Aug. 15 and mid-September:

•The Plattsburgh project will cover parts of New York, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and distribute 580,500 baits by fixed-wing aircraft and 12,960 by hand;

•The Batavia project will cover parts of New York and distribute 158,700 baits by fixed
and rotary-wing aircraft and 16,920 by hand;

•The Allegheny, Pa., project will cover parts of Pennsylvania and distribute 314,270 baits by hand;

•The North Lima, Ohio, project will cover parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and 
distribute 643,500 baits by fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and 85,690 by hand;

•The Clarksburg, W.V., project will cover parts of West Virginia and Ohio and distribute 
931,500 baits by fixed-wing aircraft and 21,960 by hand. In southern states, between Oct. 2 and mid-October:

•The Prattville, Ala., project will cover parts of Alabama and distribute 81,000 baits by rotary-wing aircraft;

•The Greeneville, Tenn., project will cover parts of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia and distribute 715,500 baits by fixed-wing aircraft and 112,320 by hand;

•The Dalton, Ga., project will cover parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee
and distribute 603,000 baits by fixed-wing aircraft and 63,000 by hand.

•The Cape Cod, MA project will cover parts of Massachusetts and distribute 24,240 baits by hand.

Depending on the weather, the USDA is expected to start air operations in the Niagara and Erie counties on Tuesday, Aug. 21. Officials will follow the airdrop with hand-baiting in the City of Niagara Falls and helicopter baiting in selected areas of the Niagara and Erie counties through Aug. 30. Niagara County expects to receive 60,000 baits via the airplane; 18,000 packets via helicopter; and 4,000 via hand.

The public is asked to leave the baits in place so that they can be consumed by wildlife. Standard precautions apply to any human or domestic animal contacting the bait. Contact with the bait should be avoided. However, any incidents of accidental human or animal contact should be reported to 1-888-574-6556; this number is listed on each bait packet.

For general questions or concerns regarding the bait drop, the public can contact the USDA at 1-866-487-3297 or the Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Division, for local assistance, at 716-439-7444. Additional information is also available at the following websites:

The National Rabies Management Program was established in recognition of the changing scope of rabies in which the primary human risk is now due to exposure from wildlife rather than domestic pets. The goal of the program is to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies and eventually eliminate terrestrial rabies in the U.S. 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.

The Raboral V-RG vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits may experience an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks. If contact with baits occurs, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap.

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 U.S., and unique variants of rabies in coyotes and foxes in Texas.

For additional information concerning the raccoon oral rabies vaccine program, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife%20damage/oral%20rabies/index.shtml or contact WS toll free at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297).

APHIS works to create and sustain opportunities for America's farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to safeguard the nation's $157 billion agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America's agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.

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