Rabies vaccine bait being dropped for raccoons
Rabies vaccine bait packets like these will be dropped from the air in Western Pennsylvania from now until late September.
Specialized oral rabies vaccines for raccoons will be dropped into western portions of Washington and Greene counties starting today.
Both the state and federal agriculture departments announced crews will be dropping more than 300,000 bait packets in Western Pennsylvania from helicopters, low-flying airplanes or ground teams from now until late September.
All of Allegheny County and portions of Beaver, Lawrence, Mercer, Crawford and Erie counties are also included in the vaccination program. Allegheny County Health Department officials said they conducted their baiting program from Aug. 12 to 16.
The pink vaccine liquid packet is coated in plastic and placed inside a fishmeal block and is attractive to raccoons and other wildlife. The packets are not typically dropped near homes, schools or playgrounds, but sometimes those areas can be obscured by dense trees or hills and might be unintentionally baited.
State and federal officials said the bait should be left alone, but can be moved if it is in the area where children or pets normally play.
The officials also advise to wear gloves or use a plastic bag when handling the bait, and wash hands if any skin comes in contact with damaged pieces.
“If you touch an intact bait or the liquid vaccine inside, immediately wash your hands and any other exposed area of skin with soap and water,” Allegheny County Health Director Ron Voorhees said in a statement. “In the unlikely event a blister-like rash should develop, contact your health care provider.”
Pets will not be harmed if they eat “a few baits” but people should still be mindful to keep them away from their animals.
A significant amount could cause vomiting or diarrhea. Agriculture officials also advise to avoid the animal’s saliva for 24 hours and wash skin or wounds that have been licked.
Anyone who is directly exposed to the pink vaccine liquid inside the bait should wash it off as soon as possible and call 1-877-722-6725 or the state Health District Office 1-877-PA-HEALTH for more information.