County To Try To Halt Rabies Spread Among Raccoons

Photo: Alan Vernon / CC BY 2.0

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County is one of 15 counties in New York State to take part in a project to try to halt the spread of rabies in raccoons.

Chautauqua County will take part in field evaluations of a new oral rabies vaccine (ORV) called ONRAB. Air and hand distribution of baits will take place in New York from Aug. 2 – 23. Depending on weather and other scheduling factors, distribution of baits in Chautauqua County is expected to occur between Aug. 8 and Aug. 23.

The ONRAB bait consists of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blister pack, containing the vaccine. To make the baits attractive, the blister packs are coated with a sweet attractant that includes vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the bait. However, people who encounter baits directly are asked to leave the bait undisturbed. Should contact with bait occur, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap and contact Chautauqua County Environmental Health Unit at (716) 753-4481. Please do not attempt to remove a bait from your dog’s mouth. The bait will not harm the dog.

The Environmental Health Unit of the Chautauqua County Department of Health & Humans Services has documented two incidents of rabid raccoon bites in Chautauqua County this summer. Both raccoons were killed at the time of attack. One raccoon was identified in the Town of Arkwright and the other was identified in the Town of Ripley.

“The recent rabid raccoon bite incidents should serve as a reminder to residents, particularly outdoor enthusiasts (hikers, hunters, etc.), that animal rabies is a serious public health concern and continues to be present in Chautauqua County” states William Boria, County Director of Environmental Health Services. “Raccoons are, by far, the animal most likely to be rabid in the state.”

Roughly one in ten animals infected by the rabies virus will become aggressive and attack with no provocation. Other rabid animals may appear tame or docile, and people may be tempted to catch and help the animals.

Rabies, left untreated, is invariably fatal. Costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies conservatively exceed $500 million annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, greater than 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the United States are in wildlife.


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