Fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters & vector control staff on the ground will distribute bite-size rabies vaccine for wildlife populations in Western New York
As it has done in previous years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Rabies Management Program is partnering with the Erie County Department of Health to distribute rabies vaccine to wildlife populations this summer.
Oral rabies vaccine – small green packets the size of a quarter coin – will be dropped from helicopters from Aug. 1-5. Ground bait distribution in urban and suburban areas of Erie County will begin around Aug. 1, as well. Fixed-wing aircraft will run from about Aug. 15-18 in Erie, Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming.
This schedule is dependent on weather conditions.
“Protecting pets with a rabies vaccine is easy enough with a visit to the veterinarian or one of our free rabies vaccine clinics,” Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein said. “Vaccinating wildlife in all corners of the county is much more challenging. But with the USDA and its oral rabies vaccination (ORV) program, animals like raccoons, skunks and foxes – which are reservoirs for rabies virus – are protected against this deadly disease. This adds another layer of protection against rabies for pets and for humans.”
“We need to be vigilant when it comes to preventing rabies in wildlife populations,” said Senior Public Health Sanitarian Peter Tripi, who manages the county’s vector control program. “By reducing the risk of this disease in wild animals, we are adding an additional line of defense to protect pet health and public health. I greatly appreciate the effective partnership that ECDOH and the USDA have forged, with them in the sky and us on the ground.”
Residents who come in contact with wildlife vaccine packets can call the NYSDOH rabies information line at 888-574-6656 with questions or concerns.
ECDOH provided these additional tips:
√ Do not disturb vaccine packets. Most packets are eaten within four days; almost all baits will be gone within a week. If packets are not found and eaten, they will harmlessly dissolve and exposed vaccine will become inactivated. If you must move a vaccine packet, wear gloves or use a plastic bag or paper towel to pick it up. Place any damaged baits in the trash; throw intact baits into a wooded area or other raccoon/wildlife habitat.
√ Residents should wash hands immediately if they come into direct contact with the vaccine or packets, then call the NYSDOH rabies information line at 888-574-6656.
Additional recommendations include:
√ Supervise children’s outdoor activities during bait distribution and for one week afterward.
√ 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 decrease the chance of pets finding the baits.
√ Baits and vaccines are not harmful to domestic animals. However, an animal may vomit if it consumes several baits.
√ Residents should not risk being bitten while trying to remove bait from your pet’s mouth.
√ ECDOH rabies, rodents, arboviruses and related information: https://www3.erie.gov/health/rabies-rodents-vectors-arboviruses-and-related-information
√ New York State Department of Health, rabies: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/
√ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rabies: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/index.html