Erie County Department of Health to start rabies vaccine airdrop on Monday

Local News

(WIVB) – The Erie County Department of Health is participating in a rabies vaccination drop throughout the county starting on Monday.

More than 628,000 rabies vaccine baits will be airdropped in Western New York through this program for rabies control.

According to the health department, five fixed wing aircraft will distribute the bait to rural areas (weather permitting) between Aug. 11 and 15. Helicopters will be used to distribute bait in suburban towns, villages, and open areas of the City of Buffalo from Aug. 16 to 23.

ECDOH Division of Environmental Health Rabies Disease and Vector Control staff will distribute baits by hand in the City of Buffalo, Amherst and Cheektowaga from August 16 to 30.

Residents are reminded NOT to disturb the baits, which are about the size of a quarter.

Most baits are eaten within four days and almost all of them will be gone within a week.

If they’re not found and eaten, they will harmlessly dissolve and the exposed vaccine will become inactivated.

“If you must move 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/wildlife habitat,” the health department says.

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.  

You should also:

  • 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.

The program is carried out in coordination with Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center, the New York State Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services.

“This bait program is part of a national strategy to eliminate rabies and we are glad to support it here in Western New York,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Raccoons, foxes and skunks consume this vaccine through bait and it can prevent them from developing this fatal disease and from transmitting it to other wild animals and to pets.”

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