BUFFALO, N.Y. — An air and ground rabies vaccine distribution is underway in Erie County. The oral rabies bait is intended to prevent the deadly virus in skunks, raccoons, foxes and other wildlife.
Ground and hand-baiting distribution began on July 28 in more densely populated areas within the county. Helicopters will drop bait to suburban towns and villages and open areas 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.
If you see a packet, you should not disturb it. Most will be eaten within four days; and almost all will be gone with a week. If they are not found and eaten, they will harmlessly dissolve and the exposed vaccine will become inactive.
If for some reason you must remove a packet, you should wear gloves or use a plastic bag or paper towel to pick it up. Damaged baits should be thrown out. A still intact bait can be thrown into a wooded area or other wildlife habitat. Residents are advised to 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.
If you have any questions or concerns, the Erie County Department of Health's Environmental Health division can be reached during regular business hours at (716) 961-7898.