Modified: August 9, 2021 11:05am
RABIES VACCINE DISTRIBUTION BY AIR AND ON GROUND PLANNED FOR ERIE COUNTY
Oral rabies bait prevents deadly virus in skunks, raccoons, foxes and other wildlife
ERIE COUNTY, NY— In coordination with the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) will participate in a wildlife vaccination program for rabies using aircraft and on-the-ground deliver to distribute bait.
Helicopters will drop bait to suburban towns and villages and open areas of the city of Buffalo from July 31 through August 4. Fixed wing aircraft will distribute vaccine packets to rural areas between August 17 and August 20. All distributions are weather-dependent. Ground and hand-baiting began on July 28 with Erie County Department of Health vector control staff and USDA personnel in more densely populated urban areas. In 2020, this program resulted in the distribution of more than 267,000 vaccine packets in Erie County.
Residents who come in contact with wildlife vaccine packets can call the NYSDOH Rabies Information Line (888) 574-6656 with questions or concerns.
Do NOT disturb vaccine packets. Most packets are eaten within four days; almost all baits will be gone within a week. If packets are not found and eaten, they will harmlessly dissolve and exposed vaccine will become inactivated. If you must move a vaccine packet, 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/wildlife habitat.
Residents should WASH HANDS IMMEDIATELY if they come into direct contact with the vaccine or packets, then call the NYSDOH Rabies Information Line at (888) 574-6656. Additional recommendations include:
- Supervise children’s outdoor activities during bait distribution and for one week afterward.
- Confine dogs and cats indoors and observe leash laws during the bait distribution interval and for one week afterward.
- This will increase the probability of raccoon vaccination and decrease the chance of pets finding the baits.
- 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.
Image of bait packet with quarter coin to indicate size; provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Image of Wildlife Rabies Vaccination Zones 2021
Image of helicopter used for wildlife vaccine distribution, 2020.
ECDOH, Rabies Information: https://www2.erie.gov/health/index.php?q=rabies-information
ECDOH, Environmental Health: 716-961-6800 (For emergencies after regular business hours: 716-961-7898)