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PA Department of Agriculture: 2005 Oral Rabies Vaccination Project Begins April 25.

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff today announced the start of the 2005 oral rabies vaccination (ORV) baiting project. This project is designed to reduce the prevalence of rabies in the wild raccoon population and subsequent spillover of infection into the state's farm production animals and pets. The first portion of this year's operation will run April 25-29, and will cover parts of Cambria, Fayette, Indiana, Somerset and Westmoreland counties. A larger baiting effort is planned for late summer.

"Pennsylvania has participated in the oral rabies vaccination project for five years," said Secretary Wolff. "Wildlife rabies accounts for nearly 93 percent of the reported rabies cases in the U.S., and raccoons account for more than 50 percent of this total. With the ORV baiting program in place, Pennsylvania has seen a 50 percent decrease in rabies numbers."

In 2004, areas in 20 western Pennsylvania counties were targeted for the ORV baiting program. Fixed-wing aircraft dropped bait into sparsely populated areas, while trained employees targeted densely populated areas and spread the bait by hand. Surveillance, trapping and testing of raccoons in the five- county area being included in the first round this year will be conducted before and after baiting is complete.

The vaccine contains only a small, non-infective portion of the rabies virus that cannot cause rabies. The vaccine is placed inside a fishmeal bait to lure the raccoons to the smell. Once the raccoon punctures the sealed plastic package, the vaccine is released into its mouth. Though the bait does not pose a health threat to humans or pets, the baits should not be handled by the public.

The six agencies collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Wildlife services on this project are the state Departments of Agriculture and Health, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC), the Erie County Health Department, the Allegheny Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control. Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and New York also participate in the baiting program.

For more information about the ORV baiting program, contact one of the following agencies, or visit http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/
 USDA Wildlife Services 1-866-487-3297

 Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture 1-717-783-9550

 The PA Department of Health Information Line 1-877-PA-HEALTH

 Erie County Department of Health 1-814-451-6700

 Allegheny County Department of Health 1-412-687-2243





CONTACT: Kristina Watson, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, +1-717-787-5085.

CONTACT: Kristina Watson, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, +1-717-787-5085

Web site: http://www.agriculture.state.pa.us/ http://www.state.pa.us/
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Date:Apr 14, 2005
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