Rabies Vaccine Airdrop Begins Mid-August; Program's Goal is to Reduce Incidence of Rabies in Local Wildlife Population

Modified: August 9, 2017 1:44pm

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From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

Date August 8, 2017                              

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925


Rabies Vaccine Airdrop Begins Mid-August

Program’s Goal is to Reduce Incidence of Rabies in Local Wildlife Population

ERIE COUNTY, NY— In collaboration with the Cornell University Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the New York State Department of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (“USDA/APHIS”) Wildlife Services, the Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) is participating in a wildlife baiting rabies vaccination initiative.Photo

From approximately August 17-20, 2017, rabies vaccine baits will be distributed over rural areas by five fixed-wing aircraft. From approximately September 1-6, 2017, helicopters will distribute bait in suburban town/villages and in open areas of the City of Buffalo. Based on weather conditions which may cause delays to this schedule, it will take approximately 3 days to complete.

From approximately August 22—25, 2017, the ECDOH’s Division of Environmental Health’s Rabies, Disease and Vector Control Program staff will distribute baits by vehicle. The geographic area to be covered is shown to the left.Map

“This distribution of vaccine-laden baits by airplane and helicopter throughout Western New York is part of an aggressive action to halt the spread of rabies in wildlife, particularly raccoons,” said Peter Tripi, Senior Public Health Sanitarian. “Rabies remains a very serious disease as it is nearly always fatal once symptoms are evident. Coordinated efforts such as this are a vital way to protect Erie County residents and their pets from contact with potentially rabid wildlife. Vaccinating wildlife against rabies is a highly effective way to decrease the risk of exposure to rabies by coming in contact with rabid wildlife.”

“The ECDOH Rabies, Disease and Vector Control program will hand bait areas throughout Erie County,” said Dr. Gale R. Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health. “Be on the lookout for our team helping to fight the spread of rabies. The oral rabies vaccine will hopefully lead to a decrease in rabies in our raccoon populations. Our goal is decreasing Erie County residents’ risk of contact with a rabid wild animal.”  Pie Chart

Residents should not disturb baits. Most baits are eaten within four days; almost all baits will be gone within a week. If baits are not found and eaten, they will dissolve and exposed vaccine will become inactivated.

If you must move the bait, wear gloves or use a plastic bag or paper towel to pick it up. Place any damaged baits in the trash; throw intact baits into a wooded area or other raccoon habitat. Residents should WASH HANDS IMMEDIATELY if they come into direct contact with the vaccine or bait, then call the New York State Department of Health Rabies Information Line at 1-888-574-6656.

Additional recommendations include:

• Supervise children’s outdoor activities during and for one week following bait distribution

• Confine dogs and cats indoors and observe leash laws during the bait distribution interval and for one week afterward. This increases the probability of raccoon vaccination and decreases the chance of pets finding the baits

• The baits and vaccines are not harmful to domestic animals; however, an animal may vomit if it consumes several baits. Residents should not risk being bitten while trying to remove bait from your pet’s mouth.

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For More Information:

Erie County Department of Health

New York State Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Frequently Requested



Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

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