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Annual Niagara County rabies vaccine drop set for Aug. 17

LOCKPORT – The 19th annual air drop of raccoon baits laced with rabies vaccine will be held the week of Aug. 17 in Niagara County.

The county Health Department announced that the experimental rabies vaccine ONRAB, developed by a Canadian company, will be used this year. Small low-flying aircraft will be used for most of the bait distribution, but Health Department workers also will hand-scatter the baits in some areas.

The bait drop is being handled in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cornell University, the state Health Department, the Tuscarora Nation and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The baits come in a green blister pack. The outer coating is a sweet mixture of sugar, vegetable-based fat and green food coloring, meant to attract raccoons. The vaccine is inside the coating. Humans and pets cannot contract rabies from handling the baits, although the Health Department asked that they be left alone by people who find them. The bait won’t hurt dogs, the department said. People who make accidental direct contact with the bait should wash with warm, soapy water and report the occurrence by calling 1-888-574-6656.