Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Aug. 25, 2004

Planes Will Drop Rabies Vaccine over Northern Oswego County

As part of an international program to eradicate rabies from wildlife in the St. Lawrence River Valley, thousands of packets of rabies vaccine will be dropped from planes flying over northern Oswego County and areas of northern New York this week. The program is scheduled to take place Thursday, Friday or Saturday, Aug. 26, 27 or 28.

The Oswego County Health Department is working with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University to distribute over 32,000 bait packages containing rabies vaccine in Redfield, Orwell, Boylston and Sandy Creek, and portions of the towns of Richland and Albion north of the Salmon River.

"Raccoon rabies is cyclical in nature," said Kathleen Smith, Oswego County Health Commissioner. "The disease is transmitted during outbreaks among susceptible raccoons. An immunized raccoon population will decrease rabies exposure to people and domestic animals."

The rabies vaccine will be dropped from yellow and black planes and white planes flying at about 500 feet altitude. The planes will depart from the Ogdensburg Airport. As in previous years, the county health department staff will also distribute baits by hand in the villages of Pulaski, Sandy Creek, and Lacona. About 1,110 baits will be placed near dumpsters, streams and wooded areas by early September.

Aerial baits are soft plastic packets, about two inches long, which contain rabies vaccine that has been coated with fishmeal and a wax binder. Hand baits are two-inch cubes of fishmeal with a packet of rabies vaccine in the center.

The program has been successful in eliminating raccoon rabies from the St. Lawrence River Valley. So far this year there have been four cases of rabies documented in wild animals in Oswego County, including three skunks and one bat.

The vaccination program is part of a broad initiative involving the state Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, USDA, and the Ministry of Natural Resources in Ontario, Canada. The program extends to several other counties in the state, including Lewis, Franklin, Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Clinton, Essex, Niagara, Erie and Chautauqua counties.

Although the vaccine isn't harmful to pets or humans, the bait packets shouldn't be disturbed. If your pet eats a bait packet or brings one home, report it to the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3564 or 1-800-596-3200, ext. 3564, or the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, phone 1-888-715-7785.

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