Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system in mammals and is always fatal if left untreated. It is almost always transmitted through saliva when an infected animal bites an animal or person.
Wildlife accounts for over 90 percent of all reported rabies cases each year in the U.S. Raccoons, bats, and skunks are responsible for most reported cases, but foxes, coyotes and other smaller mammals may also transmit the disease.
The Wildlife Services (WS) program of the USDA is working to protect people and pets from the threat of rabies in Essex County. WS is distributing an oral rabies vaccination (ORV) bait to vaccinate raccoons, and help stop the further spread of rabies. ORV baits are a teal green blister pack approximately 1 in. x 2 in., embedded in a bait material consisting of vegetable fat, sugar artificial flavors and a dark green dye. ORV baits may be distributed by airplane, helicopter, or car. This is expected to begin in Essex County on August 15th . The specific areas where the bait will be spread will be identified soon and will be posted on the Essex County Public Health website: www.co.essex.ny.us/PublicHealth.
If you find ORV baits, leave them alone, unless they are where children or pets play. To move ORV baits safely, you should:
• Wear gloves or use a paper towel or plastic bag when picking up the baits.
• Toss intact baits into a wooded area or other raccoon habitat.
• Bag and dispose of any damaged baits in the trash.
• Take precautions by practicing proper hygiene—wash with soap and water any skin or wounds that may have come into contact with ORV baits, especially if the bait was damaged.
If your pet eats an ORV bait, don’t panic. It is not harmful for pets to consume ORV bait, though eating a large number of ORV baits may cause an upset stomach. Do not risk being bitten or being exposed to the vaccine by taking bait away from your pet. Check the area where the ORV bait was found and relocate any remaining baits to a wooded area.
Essex County Public Health Department reminds all residents to avoid contact with stray or wild animals and unknown cats and dogs. Always notify your doctor or Essex County Public Health Department at 873-3500 if you are bitten by a pet or wild animal. Call the Essex County Public Health Department at 873-3500 to report a contact or if you have any questions.
It is essential for pet owners to make sure their pets are up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Visit www.co.essex.ny/PublicHealth for more information on rabies and a rabies clinic schedule.
If you have questions about ORV baits or the National Rabies Management Program, please call Wildlife Services at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297). You can find more information about this program by visiting www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/rabies.