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Niagara County Department of Health Joins Cooperative Effort to Wipe out Terrestrial Rabies: Oral Rabies Vaccine Distribution Project Slated to begin August 15th

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Friday, August 10, 2018/Categories: Health

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The Niagara County Department of Health Environmental Division is part of a collaborative effort to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies in the Western New York region through dissemination of oral rabies vaccine (ORV).  Partners include Niagara and Erie County Departments of Health, Cornell University, New York State Department of Health, Wildlife Services Program of the US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Tuscarora and Seneca Nations.   This is the 6th year Niagara County has participated in the field trial to study the efficacy of ORV against rabies in the wild.

The field test will include aerial and hand distribution of rabies vaccine-containing baits (ONRAB brand). Hand baiting may begin after August 13 through end of month. Fixed wing aircraft distribution will occur August 15 (for 2-3 days) and helicopter distribution will occur August 23 (for 4-5 days), all weather dependent.   Raccoons are vaccinated against rabies when they eat the wildlife rabies vaccine that is contained in the baits. “During the baiting period, residents may see and hear low-flying aircraft over Niagara and Erie Counties and observe program staff distributing green packets by hand and car around Niagara Falls or Buffalo neighborhoods,” said Paul Dicky, Environmental Health Director. The ONRAB baits are about the size of a matchbox and are comprised of vegetable shortening, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil and flavoring. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from the bait.  It is anticipated that 400,000 baits will be distributed over Niagara and Erie Counties.  If you find ORV baits, leave them alone unless they are found where children or pets play.  Follow ORV recommendations (on page 2).

“Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of raccoons, skunks and other mammals, including people. Rabies continues to be a serious public health concern and is fatal in unvaccinated animals,” explained Daniel Stapleton, Niagara County Public Health Director. “Members of our Niagara County community can help by monitoring their children and pets, and by keeping pets up to date with rabies vaccinations,” he advised. The Environmental Health Division offers free rabies clinics five (5) times a year. The next rabies clinic is Saturday, September 15th, from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the Town of Lockport Highway Department, 6560 Dysinger Road, Lockport. The complete rabies clinic schedule may be found on our webpage at:  http://www.niagaracounty.com/health/Services/Environmental-Health/Rabies/Rabies-Clinic.

If residents have additional questions related to the ORV ONRAB field trial, contact the Environmental Health Division at (716) 439-7444.

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