The National Wildlife Service of the USDA will be conducting an oral rabies vaccination program throughout New York State, including Essex County, from Aug. 12 to Sept. 1.
The program distributes vaccine-loaded baits by hand or aircraft in an effort to immunize raccoons against rabies.
Oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits are coated with a fat/wax attractant and packaged in small blister packs. The baits will be labeled and include a phone number for questions or concerns.
Anyone finding oral rabies vaccine bait is asked to leave it alone. If contact occurs, wash any skin or wounds that may have come into contact with ORV baits with soap and water, especially if the bait was opened or damaged. ORV cannot cause rabies; rather it causes an immune response.
In people, exposure to ORV may cause skin lesions or flu-like symptoms. It is not harmful for pets to consume ORV bait, though eating a large number of ORV baits may cause an upset stomach.
Wildlife accounts for over 90 percent of all reported rabies cases each year in the US, and raccoons are the species most frequently reported.
Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system of mammals and is always fatal if left untreated. It is almost always transmitted through saliva when an infected animal bites another animal.
Essex County Public Health Department reminds all residents to make sure their pets are up to date with rabies vaccinations and to avoid contact with stray or wild animals. If you, or your pet, are bitten by a stray or wild animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, seek medical or veterinarian attention and call Essex County Public Health at 873-3500 (1-888-270-7249 after hours). Visit www.co.essex.ny.us/PublicHealth for rabies clinic schedules more information about rabies.