Oral Rabies Vaccination Program
To help control the spread of rabies among people and domestic animals, Pennsylvania counties will provide vaccines to wildlife.
Posted: September 6, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT
An oral rabies vaccination program, which helps control the spread of rabies in wild animals, is now in effect for parts of Pennsylvania.
Rabies is a virus found in the saliva of an infected animal. It is most often transferred through a bite. A virus that targets both the brain and the spinal cord it can cause serious health issues and even death. When a person is bitten by an animal that has or may have rabies, there are a series of shots that can be administered to avoid side effects and fight the virus.
In 2009, Pennsylvania reported the largest number of domestic animal rabies cases in the United States. While all dogs in the state are required to be vaccinated for rabies, the disease continues to spread through wild animals.
Eight Pennsylvanian counties, including parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer and Washington counties will receive rabies vaccination baits coated with a fishmeal attractant in 1-inch square cubes to help vaccinate non-domesticated animals.
“Controlling the spread of rabies in wild animals is essential to ensuring human and domestic animal health,” says George Greig, agriculture secretary. “The oral rabies vaccination program has been the key component in preventing the westward spread of raccoon rabies. I appreciate the cooperation of residents in the affected counties in helping us to mitigate the threat of rabies.”
Wildlife rabies accounts for more than 90 percent of U.S. rabies cases, with raccoons making up more than half of this total. The primary purpose of the baiting is to vaccinate raccoons, although other animals that ingest the bait will be vaccinated against the virus.
This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including dogs and cats.
Six agencies are partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services for this program, including the state departments of Agriculture and Health, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Erie County Health Department, Allegheny County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control.
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