The Health Department and NYC Parks will distribute oral rabies vaccine baits to immunize raccoons and protect them from rabies infection
New Yorkers should avoid contact with wild animals and vaccinate their pets against rabies
June 15, 2021 — The Health Department and NYC Parks today began vaccinating raccoons against rabies in New York City. Raccoons can get sick with rabies and potentially spread the virus to other mammals or people. Since 2014, New York City has been vaccinating raccoons against rabies to help keep them healthy, using bait that contain an oral rabies vaccine (ORV).
“Rabies can be deadly for people and pets,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “New Yorkers should ensure their pets are up to date on vaccinations and avoid interactions with wild mammals. From rabies in raccoons to COVID in our City, vaccines work to help keep New Yorkers safe this summer.”
“Raccoons are a natural part of our city,” said Richard Simon Wildlife Unit Director for NYC Parks. “Although it’s very rare to come into contact with a rabid raccoon, we want to remind all New Yorkers that if you see a raccoon, you should give them space - never approach or try to feed them. We’re grateful for the Department of Health for their partnership in taking this preventative measure to encourage healthier wildlife in our parks.”
On Tuesday, June 15, the Health Department and NYC Parks will distribute ORV baits in Manhattan’s Inwood Hill and Fort Tryon Parks as part of an ongoing effort to eliminate the virus from Manhattan. Additional vaccination efforts are planned for other boroughs in the months ahead.
The small, brown colored ORV baits are fish-scented and resemble a ketchup packet which conceals a small amount of pink, liquid vaccine. Raccoons are attracted to the odor and when they chew the bait, they can become immunized, which protects them against rabies infection.
The bait itself does not harm people, but in extremely rare instances, exposure to the liquid may cause a rash. In the unlikely event someone comes in contact with the liquid, they should wash hands with warm, soapy water, talk to their doctor, and notify the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. The bait is not harmful to pets and cannot cause rabies, but it can cause vomiting if several baits are consumed. If pets find the bait, do not try to take it away from them to avoid being bitten and exposed to the vaccine.
Thirteen rabid animals have been found across the five boroughs to date in 2021: 1 raccoon and 1 cat from Bronx, 7 raccoons and 2 cats from Staten Island, 1 raccoon from Manhattan, and 1 from Queens.
Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten by a rabid animal. In NYC, rabies is mostly found in raccoons. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system. If a person or pet does not receive the appropriate medical care after a potential rabies exposure, the virus can cause disease in the brain, ultimately resulting in death. Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating pets, staying away from wildlife, and seeking medical care after potential exposures before symptoms start.
For more information about rabies in New York City, visit www.nyc.gov/health/rabies.
For more information on the Oral Rabies Vaccine, please visit the following sites:
New York State Department of Health: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/vaccfact.htm
United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Rabies Management Program: http://tinyurl.com/usda-rabies
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