Aircraft to drop 80,000 rabies bait packs on areas of St. Lawrence County starting Monday
Approximately 80,000 rabies bait packs like these will be dropped on areas of St. Lawrence County from aircraft, and several thousand more will be distributed by hand.The annual distribution of tens of thousands of oral rabies serum baits for raccoons is set to begin Monday in St. Lawrence County.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s wildlife services program will distribute oral rabies vaccine baits by hand – several hundred in each of 10 towns -- and 80,000 from the air in select areas in St. Lawrence County in an effort to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies.
As they have been in the past, the baits will be distributed in the Gouverneur, Heuvelton, Canton, Ogdensburg and Waddington areas. The treatment area will be expanded for 2012 to also include Brasher Falls, Massena, Norwood, Norfolk and Potsdam.
The goal of the program is to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies and eventually eliminate terrestrial rabies in the United States 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. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits may experience an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks.
Should contact with baits occur, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap.
This year to date St. Lawrence County has found two rabid raccoons, one in the Town of Oswegatchie on June 11 and another, a lactating female, in the Town of Canton on June 26. There has also been one rabid bat found in St. Lawrence County, which was reported in July.
Rabies is most often transmitted through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or when saliva of the infected animal comes into contact with an open wound or mucous membrane (such as nose or mouth). Simple contact with a wild animal will not result in rabies.
If bitten by an animal, first wash the wound with soap and water and immediately contact a physician or go to the hospital emergency room to determine if tetanus or rabies shots will be required. All animal bites must be reported to the local animal control office and the county health department.
The health department wants to remind pet owners of the importance of having their animals up-to-date on rabies vaccinations. Rabies is a fatal disease. Vaccination of pets is the primary prevention measure that prevents the rabies virus from passing from wildlife to pets and people.
The next county rabies clinics will be held September 13, 2-5 pm and October 11, 5-8 pm at the Canton Human Services Building.
Call the county Public Health Department at 386-2325 for more information about the rabies clinics.
For additional information on the raccoon oral rabies vaccine program, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/oral_rabies/index.shtml or call toll-free (866) 487-3297.