The Niagara County Department of Health is collaborating with other federal, state and county health agencies to air-drop oral rabies vaccines across the region in the coming weeks.
The vaccines will be dropped from fixed-wing aircraft over two or three days next week and from helicopters from Aug. 24 to Aug. 29 or 30, weather depending. The vaccines are added to matchbox-sized baits that consist of vegetable shortening, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil and flavoring.
About 400,000 rabies vaccine baits will be dropped across Niagara and Erie counties during this period.
Health department officials urge the public not to move the baits unless they are in an area where children or pets play. However, humans and pets cannot contract rabies from the baits.
This is the seventh year Niagara County has participated in the field trial to study the efficacy of ORV against rabies in the wild.
“During the baiting period, residents may see and hear low-flying aircraft over Niagara and Erie Counties and observe program staff distributing green packets by hand and car around Niagara Falls neighborhoods,” said Paul Dicky, environmental health director.
Rabies is a viral infection that affects the nervous system of raccoons, skunks and other mammals, including people. Rabies continues to be a serious public health concern, and fatal in unvaccinated animals, explained Public Health Director, Daniel Stapleton.
“Members of our Niagara County community can help by monitoring their children and pets, and by keeping pets up to date with rabies vaccinations,” he said. The next free rabies vaccine clinic is 2 to 4 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Town of Lockport Highway Department, 6560 Dysinger Road, Lockport.
If residents have additional questions related to the ORV ONRAB field trial, contact the Environmental Health Division at 439-7444.