Oral Rabies Vaccination Program Underway In Pennsylvania

Eight Pennsylvania counties now offer an oral rabies vaccination.

A coated sachet (left) and fishmeal-polymer (right) oral rabies vaccination (ORV) baits, with a quarter for perspective. The sachet - or plastic packet - contains the rabies vaccine. To make the baits appetizing to animals, the sachets containing vaccine are sprinkled with fishmeal coating, and/or encased inside the hard fishmeal-polymer blocks.

Photo by John Forbes, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services.

An oral rabies vaccination program, which helps control the spread of rabies in wild animals, is now in effect for eight Pennsylvania counties.

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.

“Controlling the spread of rabies in wild animals is essential to ensuring human and domestic animal health,” said 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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