The Nassau County Department of Health and Cornell University announced Thursday its plans to distribute raccoon rabies vaccine bait in numerous areas of the county beginning on Sept. 24 and lasting through Oct. 24.
Rabies vaccine baits are planned to be distributed in the northwestern portion of the county — including Bellerose, Bellerose Terrace, East Garden City, Elmont, Floral Park, Franklin Square, Garden City, Garden City South, Hempstead, Lakeview, Lynbrook, Malverne, Malverne Oaks, New Hyde Park, North Lynbrook, North Valley Stream, Rockville Centre, South Floral Park, South Hempstead, Stewart Manor, Valley Stream and West Hempstead.
“Because of the threat to wildlife and domestic animals from terrestrial rabies, action needs to be continued to prevent rabies from becoming endemic here in Nassau County,” according to a Health Department press release Thursday.
The action comes in response to the most recent case of rabies reported in Queens, according to the health department, which has confirmed 67 infected raccoons since 2004.
Rabies bait includes a vaccine packet to be distributed in raccoon habitats such as woods, bushes, streambeds and sewers, according to a release by the Health Department.
Raccoons are attracted by the bait scent and are immunized when they eat the contents of the packet.
The Nassau County Department of Health recommends:
- To avoid inadvertent contact with the baits, supervise children’s outdoor activities both during and for approximately one week following the bait distribution.
- Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately in the unlikely event that a child bites through the packet and ingests the liquid, or if there is any human contact with the bait.
- Wash hands immediately before calling to report the exposure if anyone comes in bare-hand contact with the bait (even if the bait is intact.) The bait packet itself will not harm anyone.
- Keep all dogs and cats indoors or on leashes during the oral bait distribution and for about a week afterwards. This will allow raccoons to eat the vaccine-laden baits and become immunized and will decrease the chance of pets eating the baits. Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you have seen your pet with bait in its mouth.
- The baits are not harmful to dogs or cats, but a pet may vomit if they eat a large number of them. Do not try to remove a packet from an animal’s mouth.
- Remember that it is not possible to get rabies from the vaccine. The vaccine does not contain the rabies virus. It does contain attenuated vaccinia virus, a weakened version of the virus.
- If residents find bait near their homes, but not in the open, leave it alone. The bait packets have a strong fishmeal smell that is not attractive to people or to most other animals.
- If the bait is intact and out in the open where pets or children are more likely to encounter it, toss it into deeper cover under trees or bushes while wearing gloves or using a plastic bag.
- Residents who see raccoons should NOT try to trap the raccoons themselves. Call a licensed trapper.
Additional information, including Health Department recommendations regarding rabies and the baits can be found on the department website or by calling 516-227-9663.