Annual WV raccoon rabies vaccination program set for August and September
West Virginia’s raccoon population is about to receive its annual dose of rabies vaccine. Raccoons are a major source of rabies in West Virginia, and in order to control the spread of the disease, rabies vaccine-containing baits will be distributed beginning in late August to help stop the westward spread of the raccoon rabies virus variant in the state. This is sponsored by the US Dept of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Wildlife Services, in cooperation with local health departments, the WV Dept of Agriculture, the WV Division of Natural Resources, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the WV Dept of Health and Human Resources.
Hand baiting will begin on August 24th 2015 and will continue until completed. Aerial baiting will also begin on August 24th and is scheduled to conclude in early September. Distribution of baits is weather dependent and inclement weather may result in extended bait distributions.
Each vaccine-containing bait consists of a plastic sachet containing the vaccine and is covered with a fish-meal polymer. The swath of baiting will cover the northern panhandle counties and continue down the central portion of WV to the southern-most counties. Most of these baits will be distributed by low flying aircraft. Block type baits will be distributed in selected urban locations by hand.
The bait has a toll-free number printed on its side so that anyone finding the bait can obtain information by calling the number listed. Residents are asked to leave the baits alone and to keep pets confined or on a leash during the baiting period and up to five days after baiting, in order to give raccoons the opportunity to locate and eat the baits. Dogs may be attracted to the baits and occasionally will eat them, but the baits are not harmful to pets. Do not attempt to take the bait away from your pet as you may be bitten.
Some other information to keep in mind:
•Know what the bait looks like. The primary bait distributed by air looks like a ketchup package covered with a fine brown colored fish meal coating. The block type of bait is a hard, brown colored fishmeal polymer shell that resembles a fig cookie.
•Instruct children to leave the baits alone
•If the baits are found in areas frequented by pets or children, please toss them into brushy or forested cover. Damaged baits can be tossed into the trash – gloves or paper towels are suggested when handling these baits.
•If your skin is exposed to the vaccine, which is a red to purple liquid, wash the area with soap and water and contact your local health dept or the number listed on the bait.
For more information on this program, please contact the Pocahontas County health dept at 304-799-4154 or the WV Dept of Health and Human Resources at 1-800-423-1271.