August 19, 2011

Rabies Vaccination Program Underway in Western Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The annual oral rabies vaccination program, which helps control the spread of rabies in wild animals, is underway in eight western Pennsylvania counties.

The program covers all or parts of Allegheny, Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer and Washington counties.

"Controlling the spread of rabies in wild animals is essential to ensuring human and domestic animal health," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "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 the nation's reported 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.

Hand-baiting operations began Aug. 12 and will continue until Aug. 22 in Allegheny County and portions of Beaver and Washington counties. Aerial operations will be conducted in the western less-populated portions of Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer and Washington counties beginning Sept. 5 and continuing up to seven days.

Oral rabies vaccination baits are coated with a fishmeal attractant and may be packaged in off-white, one-inch square cubes or two-inch plastic sachets. Images of the baits can be viewed at

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked not to disturb them if discovered. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.

If contact with vaccination bait occurs, a person should immediately rinse the affected area with warm water and soap. For information concerning accidental contact with baits, call 1-877-722-6725.

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 Center for Disease Control.

For more information about efforts to reduce rabies in Pennsylvania, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-2852, or visit and search for "rabies."

Media contact: Nicole L. C. Bucher, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture