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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release # 086-06
Tuesday, September 12, 2006

(212) 788-5290; (212) 788-3058 (after hours)
Andrew Tucker (atucker@health.nyc.gov)
Josh Bell (jbell@health.nyc.gov)


NEW YORK STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT WILL BAIT SMALL AREA OF QUEENS TO PREVENT SPREAD OF RABIES AMONG RACCOONS

NEW YORK CITY - September 12, 2006 - To prevent the spread of rabies virus among raccoons in New York City, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) will conduct a rabies control program in eastern Queens from September 13 to September 22. This effort is in response to a growing number of rabid raccoons found in Nassau County since 2004. Since Queens shares a border with Nassau County and a small number of rabid raccoons have been found in Queens (one in 2005 and two in 2006), a small area of Queens adjacent to the Nassau County border will also be baited. The majority of the baiting is being conducted in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, the NYSDOH, and the Nassau and Suffolk County health departments.

The bait will be placed on the ground in Queens by State and Federal workers in the neighborhoods of Little Neck, Bayside, Douglaston, Floral Park, Glen Oaks, Oakland Gardens, Bellerose, Hollis Hill and Queens Village (see map for more details).

Raccoons are attracted to the smell of the baits, which consist of a small packet of liquid rabies vaccine about one square inch in size inside a brown fishmeal cube. When raccoons consume the bait, they become "immunized" and can no longer pass on rabies infection to other animals or humans. Pictures of the bait can be found at .

Information for Residents in Baited Area:

Pets should be kept on leashes and parents and caregivers in the area should supervise children's outdoor activities until one week following bait distribution (until Sept 29). While the vaccine is not harmful to pets, it may cause vomiting if consumed. The bait is labeled "Rabies vaccine Live Vaccinia Vector. Do Not Disturb, Merial, Inc. US Vet Lic. No. 298 1-877-722-6725".

  • If you have bare skin contact with the bait, call the New York City Poison Control Center at 212-POISONS or at 800-222-1222. Seek immediate medical attention if the liquid is ingested.
  • It is not possible to get rabies from the vaccine, but it does contain a weakened form of another virus (the vaccinia virus), which can cause skin infections in rare circumstances.
  • If you find unopened bait where pets or children are more likely to encounter it, you can toss it under trees or bushes. Anyone who needs to touch the bait should wear gloves or use a plastic bag.
  • If you suspect your pet consumed the bait, do not try to remove it from your pet's mouth. The baits are not harmful to dogs or cats, but pets may vomit if they eat a large number of them.
  • Raccoons or other wild animals that appear sick or aggressive should be reported to 311. Residents should NOT try to trap raccoons or other wild animals themselves.

More information about the baiting is available on the Nassau and Suffolk County websites: www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/health/NewsRelease/2006/09-06-2006.html, and www.co.suffolk.ny.us/pressreleases.cfm?ID=1711&dept=6.

Information about Rabies:

Rabies is a preventable viral disease that is most often transmitted to humans through the bite of a rabid animal, such as raccoons, skunks, and bats. The disease is almost always fatal if rabies shots are not given promptly. There have been no human cases of rabies in New York City in over 50 years.

Always stay away from wild animals, especially any animal that is behaving aggressively, appears ill or is acting unusually friendly. For information about how to protect yourself, your family, and your pets, visit nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cd/cdrab.shtml. Anyone who has been bitten or had physical contact with a wild animal should immediately seek medical attention. All animal bites should be reported to NYC DOHMH's Veterinary Public Health Services at 212-676-2483.

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Protect yourself, your family, and your pets.