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Rabies Bait Will Be Dropped In The Local Area

By Staff | Aug 25, 2010

Raccoons in West Virginia will get another dose of rabies vaccine as part of an ongoing multi-agency effort to create a protective rabies barrier across the state.

The vaccine is administered to the raccoons by baits dropped from airplanes and hand distribution. The baits consist of vaccine packets inside of fishmeal shells. The packets are distributed along a path that crosses 31 counties from the northern panhandle to the southern coal fields. Both Wetzel and Tyler counties are included in the bait drop.

The fishmeal baits attract raccoons looking for an easy snack. They eat the bait, puncturing the vaccine packet. The vaccine is absorbed into the raccoon’s mouth, triggering an immune response that protects it from rabies.

The baits are not harmful to humans or pets, but should be left alone. Please remember the following:

-The baits are in two forms. One appears square-shaped, similar to a fig bar, and is brown in color. A packet inside the bait holds the vaccine. The other looks like a ketchup package with the exterior covered with a fine brown-colored fish meal coating.

-Tell children to leave the baits alone.

-Keep dogs and cats inside or confine them for at least one week after your area is baited. This gives raccoons a chance to find and eat the baits.

-Dogs and cats are attracted to the baits and may eat them. Consumption of these baits by domestic animals or livestock will not hurt them.Companion animals (dogs and cats) may experience an upset stomach if several baits are consumed.

-Do not attempt to take baits away from your pet-you may be bitten.

-Baits found in areas frequented by pets or children should be tossed into deeper cover using either gloves or a paper towel.

-Dispose of damaged baits in the trash using gloves or a paper towel.

-Wash skin with soap and water if it is exposed to the actual vaccine (red to purple liquid).

The bait drop is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the West Virginia Departments of Health and Human Resources, Agriculture, and the State Division of Natural Resources; local health departments; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hand baiting will start in late August and continue to completion.Aerial bait drops begin about Sept. 1 and continue through Sept. 5 if there are no delays due to weather.

Rabies is a serious public health concern. It is always fatal if left untreated. In the past five years, West Virginia has had an average of 90 confirmed animal rabies cases per year. These cases have primarily been in wildlife, though companion animals, livestock, and occasionally horses are diagnosed positive. Most rabies in West Virginia occurs in wild animals and most of that occurs in raccoons.

Nationally, costs associated with detection, prevention, and control of rabies exceed $300 million each year.

For more information, call the Wetzel-Tyler Health Department at 304-337-2001 or the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources at 1-800-423-1271, or online at “http://www.wvidep.org/AZIndexofInfectiousDiseases/RabiesHumanorAnimal/RabiesOralVaccinationProject/tabid/1703/Default.aspx”>www.wvidep.org/AZIndexofInfectiousDiseases/RabiesHumanorAnimal/RabiesOralVaccinationProject/tabid/1703/Default.aspx.