Rabies Baitng Continues: Be Aware While Children and Pets Are Outdoors

Raccoon baiting continues in the Garden City area.
Raccoon baiting continues in the Garden City area.
Residents are reminded today, World Rabies Day, that the Nassau County Health Department, in cooperation with Cornell University, continues to distribute raccoon rabies vaccine bait in Garden City.

Distribution will end Oct. 24.

Several residents have contacted Patch concerned about their pets and children. A resident who lives near Stratford School and Tullamore Park said her dog
already ate one of the packets.

"Unfortunately I put my hand in her mouth to take out the bait which was pretty much chewed up," she said. "I called the [number] on the rabies vaccine packet which was inside and they answered poison control. Little panic on my part but they said she would only get sick to her stomach if she ate a lot of them and for me to wash my hands with soap and water.

"I always walk my dog leashed so she had to have picked it up between the sidewalk and the curb ... I'll just be a little more diligent knowing the baits are around ... I would hate to have a little one pick up a bait and put it in their mouth with the park and the schools around," she added.

Health department officials said action needs to be continued to prevent rabies from becoming "endemic here in Nassau County.” 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. the packets are being 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.
  • 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.


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