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Niagara County Department of Health joins cooperative effort to wipeout rabies

Submitted Editorial

Mon, Aug 7th 2017 03:00 pm
Oral rabies vaccine distribution project slated to begin Aug. 9
By the Niagara County Department of Health
The Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Division is part of a collaborative effort to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies in the Western New York region through dissemination of oral rabies vaccine. Partners include Niagara County and Erie County departments of health, Cornell University, the New York State Department of Health, the wildlife services program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, as well as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
This is the 21st year of participation in the ORV baiting initiative and the fifth year Niagara County has participated in the field trial to study the efficacy of ORV against rabies in the wild. The field test will include aerial and hand distribution of rabies vaccine-containing baits (ONRAB brand). Distribution is weather-dependent and may occur as follows: Hand baiting on Wednesday, Aug. 9; fixed-wing aircraft distribution on Wednesday, Aug. 16; and helicopter distribution on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Raccoons are vaccinated against rabies when they eat the wildlife rabies vaccine that is contained in the baits.
"During the baiting period, residents may see and hear low-flying aircraft over Niagara and Erie counties and observe environmental division workers distributing green packets by hand and car around Niagara Falls neighborhoods," said Paul Dicky, environmental health director.
The ONRAB baits are about the size of a matchbox and are comprised of vegetable shortening, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil and flavoring. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from the bait.
It is anticipated 403,950 baits will be distributed over Niagara and Erie counties.
If you find baits, leave them alone, unless they are found where children or pets play. Follow ORV recommendations provided below.
If residents have additional questions related to the ORV ONRAB field trial, they may contact the environmental health division at 716-439-7444.
ORV recommendations include:
•Wash your hands immediately if you come into direct contact with the vaccine or bait, then call 1-888-574-6656.
•Supervise children's outdoor activities during, and for one week following bait distribution.
•Confine dogs and cats indoors and observe leash laws during the bait distribution interval and for one week afterward. This will increase the probability of raccoon vaccination and will decrease the chance of pets finding the baits.
•The baits and vaccines are not harmful to domestic animals; however, an animal may vomit if it consumes several baits. Do not risk being bitten while trying to remove bait from your pet's mouth.
•Call 1-888-574-6656 if you see your pet with bait in its mouth and cannot read the label.
•If baits are observed in the environment, please leave them alone. Labels identify the bait: ("Rabies Vaccine DO NOT EAT, Live adenovirus vector. MNR 1-888-574-6656").
•If a bait is intact and out in the open where pets or children may find it, please toss the bait under trees or bushes. Wear gloves or use a plastic bag to pick up the bait.
•If a bait is broken and the liquid vaccine is visible, wear gloves, and cover the bait and affected area with a 1:10 solution of bleach and water, place the bait in a plastic bag, and dispose of the bag in the household trash.
In the event of direct contact with a bait or vaccine, please call 1-888-574-6656.
"Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of raccoons, skunks and other mammals, including people. Rabies continues to be a serious public health concern, and fatal in unvaccinated animals," Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton said. "Members of our Niagara County community can help by monitoring their children and pets, and by keeping pets up to date with rabies vaccinations."
The Environmental Division offers free rabies clinics five times a year. The next clinic is 9-11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Town of Lockport Highway Department, 6560 Dysinger Road. The complete rabies clinic schedule is online at http://www.niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Environmental-Health/Rabies/Rabies-Clinic.

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