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Niagara County Department of Health joins cooperative effort to wipe out terrestrial rabies


Thu, Jul 29th 2021 06:45 pm

Oral rabies vaccine (ORV) distribution project slated to begin July 31

Submitted 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 rabies in the Western New York region through dissemination of oral rabies vaccine (ORV). The cooperative USDA National Rabies Management Program (NRMP) was established in 1997 to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies in the U.S. by containing and eventually eliminating the virus in terrestrial mammals. Niagara County has participated in this continuing, multiyear study to test the efficacy of ORV against rabies in the wild since its inception.

Raccoons are vaccinated against rabies when they eat the wildlife rabies vaccine that is contained in the baits.

The field test will include aerial and hand distribution of rabies vaccine-containing baits (ONRAB brand). Hand baiting may begin Monday, Aug. 2. Fixed wing aircraft distribution is set to begin Aug. 17 (for up to three days), and helicopter distribution on or about July 31 (for up to five days). All distribution is weather-dependent.

“During the baiting period, residents may see and hear low-flying aircraft over Niagara and Erie counties and observe program staff distributing green blister packets by hand and car around Niagara Falls neighborhoods,” said Paul Dicky, environmental health director.

The ONRAB bait consists of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blister pack, containing the rabies vaccine. To make the bait attractive, the blister pack containing the vaccine is coated with a sweet attractant that includes vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from the bait.

If one finds ORV baits, leave them alone, unless they are found where children or pets play. Follow ORV recommendations.

“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.”

For information on upcoming rabies vaccination clinics, visit http://www.niagaracounty.com/health and follow the “Rabies Information” icon.

For more on the ORV ONRAB field trial, contact the environmental health division at 716-439-7444.

Additional ORV Recommendations

•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 bait distribution 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 a 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, 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, 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, call the New York State Department of Health at 1-888-574-6656.

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