Q. What does the bait look like?
A. For raccoons, the formulation is the coated sachet, which consists of a small packet containing the vaccine, which is then coated in fishmeal and oil. The vaccine (dyed pink) is encased within the white plastic package (sachet) that resembles a fast-food style ketchup or mustard packet. A label printed in black on each bait reads: RABIES VACCINE / LIVE VACCINIA VECTOR / DO NOT DISTURB / 1-877-722-6725.
Q: What are the dangers of ORV to humans and other animals?
A:The vaccine and bait are not considered to be dangerous. The bait coating is made of dog food or fishmeal mixed with a non-toxic bonding agent; tetracycline is added as a biomarker. The bait poses no danger to human or animal health. Extensive research in a wide variety of species has shown the oral rabies vaccine inside the packet to be very safe. The vaccine is made by utilizing the most current technology and only non-infectious portions of the rabies virus are used. Humans and animals are in no danger of developing rabies if they are exposed to the vaccine. However, when people are exposed to the vaccine, it is advised that physicians consider the possibility of complications due to exposure to vaccinia, particularly if the person is immunocompromised or has dermatological conditions such as eczema. However, such reactions are rare.
Q: What if I find a bait near my home?
A: It is best to leave the bait where you found it unless it is on your lawn, driveway, or other area not likely to attract a raccoon or is in an area frequented by children or pets. While wearing a glove, you can move the bait to an area of thicker cover, away from children and pets, where a raccoon will be more likely to find it. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with a bait.
Q: Why do I need to wear a glove when handling a bait?
A: An intact bait will not harm you but the smell may get on your skin and is objectionable to people. If a bait is broken and pink liquid (vaccine) is visible, while wearing gloves you may place the bait in a bag and dispose of it with your regular trash because the bait will no longer be effective. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with a bait.
Q: What if my child finds a bait?
A: The smell of the bait generally prevents children from playing with or tasting them. If your child were to bring you an intact bait, you may place the bait into an area of thick cover; if your child brings you a broken bait, dispose of the bait in your regular trash, wash the exposed skin and call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services office at 1-866-4 USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297), for further instructions and referral. A person can not get rabies from handling the bait, packets, or vaccine. Some people, especially if they are immunocompromised, may have a localized skin reaction from contact with the vaccine, though such reactions are rare.
Q: Can I get rabies from contact with the vaccine?
A: No. The vaccine does not contain the live rabies virus, only a single gene from the outer coating of the rabies virus. However, the virus that carries this single gene may cause a local pox-type infection in people who are pregnant or have an immunodeficiency disease. If you come into contact with the vaccine, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services office at 1-866-4 USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297), for further instructions and referral.
Q: What if my dog or cat eats a bait?
A: Pet owners in bait distribution areas are asked to keep their dogs and cats inside or on leashes so raccoons can eat the baits. Should your pet touch or eat a bait, the vaccine will not harm it. USDA testing and evaluation has shown the vaccine to be safe in over 50 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Eating a large number of baits may cause a temporarily upset stomach in your pet but does not pose a long-term health risk. A domestic animal's annual rabies vaccination can be safely administered even if the animal recently ingested a dose of the oral rabies vaccine. Do not attempt to remove a bait from your pet; doing so may cause you to be bitten.
Q: Can I use this bait to vaccinate my dog or cat?
A: No. This vaccine is only approved for use in wildlife. Your pet should be vaccinated by a veterinarian in accordance with state and local laws. A domestic animal's annual rabies vaccination can be safely administered even if the animal recently ingested a dose of the oral rabies vaccine. If you have questions about vaccinating your pet, call your local Animal Control.
Q: How does a raccoon get vaccinated by eating this bait?
A: The vaccine is contained inside a plastic packet that is coated with fishmeal. When a raccoon bites the bait, the vaccine packet is punctured and the vaccine gets into the animal's mouth. The raccoon's immune system is then tricked into thinking it has been exposed to the rabies virus and makes antibodies to fight the disease. The "blueprint" on how to make these antibodies is then stored in the raccoon's immune system, allowing its body to respond quickly should it be exposed to a rabid animal.
Q: How are baits distributed?
A: In rural areas, baits are dropped from airplanes. Baits are distributed in urban and suburban areas by hand. This is done to get the most effective bait distribution and to minimize human contact with baits.
Q: Why should I be worried about rabies in wildlife?
A: Rabies in wildlife is a serious public health concern because infected wild mammals can transmit the rabies virus to domestic animals and to people. If left untreated in animals or people, rabies is always fatal. Costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies exceed $300 million annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 90 percent of reported rabies cases are in wildlife.
Q: How can I find out more information about this program?
A: You can dial 1-866-4 USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297) to speak with staff from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Wildlife Services national rabies management program, or visit their website at the National Rabies Management Program.