The Allegheny County Health Department will be distributing raccoon rabies vaccine baits August 4 through August 11. The program aims to reduce human and pet exposure to rabies by vaccinating wild raccoons. The county health department recommends keeping dogs on a leash, indoors or confined to their property as much as possible during baiting, and the week after, to minimize exposure.
All parts of Pittsburgh will be baited. Emphasis will be placed on baiting those areas along the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, along stream banks and in regions having “Green Spaces ” such as the four major parks (Frick, Highland, Riverview, Schenley) and cemeteries.
About the ACHD rabies baiting program
Raccoon rabies is found throughout Pennsylvania. It is a viral infection that can affect the nervous system of any mammal, including humans. The disease is almost always fatal to both people and animals. Raccoon rabies spreads rapidly and infects large numbers of raccoons. The disease often spreads to other wildlife and pets, making human exposure a real concern. To address this problem, federal, state and county agencies are participating in a combined program, to keep this animal epidemic from spreading further westward by attempting to eliminate or at least greatly reduce raccoon rabies in western Pennsylvania counties.
Since 2001, ACHD has partnered with the USDA Wildlife Services each summer to distribute hundreds of thousands of oral raccoon rabies vaccine baits across Allegheny County by hand. The goal of the USDA’s National Rabies Management Program is to eradicate the raccoon variant of rabies from the United States. In Phase I (2001 to 2015) of the program, the goal was to contain the westward spread of the raccoon variant of rabies. This has successfully been accomplished. Phase II of the project (started in 2016) aims to push the westward boundary of raccoon rabies back eastward, eventually all the way to the coast, effectively eradicating raccoon rabies from the United States.
The oral rabies vaccine bait consists of a square block made from a compressed mixture of fishmeal and fish oil known to attract raccoons. The vaccine (dyed pink) is inside a plastic packet that is inserted in the middle of the block. Baits are distributed from vehicles or airplanes. Most of the baits will be consumed about five days after being distributed. People should tell their children to leave the baits alone. Pet owners are asked to keep their dogs and cats inside or on leashes so raccoons can eat the baits.
Read more about the program
The page Timely Topic – Raccoon Rabies Baiting Project on the ACHD website has information on:
- how the baits are distributed
- what to do if you find one
- what to do if your pet picks one up or eats one
- distribution dates for the baits
- list of communities where the baits will be distributed
- information on raccoons
- information on rabies
The importance of rabies vaccination in our pets
Rabies is a contagious viral disease termed zoonotic because it is one of the diseases which can spread from animals to humans with just one bite from an infected animal. The only way to test for rabies is by examination of the brain tissue of a dead animal. There is no way to test for rabies infection in a live animal. Read more about rabies and how the vaccine has saved millions of lives and worldwide efforts to eradicate it through the vaccine.
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