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Rabies vaccine to be distributed by air and ground in Western New York

rabies drop.jpg
Posted at 12:20 PM, Jul 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-22 12:20:43-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Department of Health announced it is partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Rabies Management Program to distribute rabies vaccine to wildlife this summer.

The oral rabies vaccine, which are small green packets the size of a quarter, will be distributed by air and ground across Western New York.

August 1 - 5 — dropped from helicopters, ground bait distribution in urban and suburban areas of Erie County will begin
August 15 - 18 — Fixed-wing aircraft will run in Erie, Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming

The ECDOH said the 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. 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."
- Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein

The ECDOH released the following recommendations:

  • 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.
  • 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.