The Cape Cod Rabies Task Force began distributing rabies vaccine bait this week in the towns of Sandwich, Mashpee, Barnstable, Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich and Brewster. Bait packs containing Raboral V-RG® vaccine will be distributed in wooded areas in each of the towns in an effort to fight raccoon rabies.
The bait is not harmful to pets, but officials encourage pet owners to keep their dogs leashed to avoid unnecessary contact with the bait packs. If ingested, dogs may experience gastrointestinal issues.
Two types of bait are distributed as part of the Cape Cod Oral Rabies Vaccination Project (CCORV), coated sachets and bait blocks. The bait is distributed via ORV bait stations that will be stocked and checked periodically. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 29,820 pieces of bait will be distributed by hand during this round.
Anyone who finds a bait pack on a trail is asked to use something to pick it up (do not touch it with your bare hands) and toss it as far into the woods as possible or dispose of it if a trash receptacle is available. Most bait is eaten with in a week and if left uneaten, will eventually dissolve, according to researchers. If you pet eats the bait, the task force asks that you report it to the USDA Wildlife Services MA/CT/RI Rabies Program Brian Bjorklund at 508-476-2715.
According to the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, the Cape Cod Rabies Task Force has worked to keep rabies off the Cape since 1994. They were successful until 2004 when raccoon rabies appeared on this side of the bridge for the first time. The task force continues to distribute the vaccine in an effort to control rabies from spreading through Cape wildlife. In February 2013 a bat tested positive for rabies in Wellfleet.
The distribution program is a joint effort by the Cape Cod Rabies Task Force, the US Department of Agriculture and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The distribution will last for four weeks.