Pinellas County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are once again distributing oral rabies vaccination baits throughout the county. The ORV baits consist of a sachet, or plastic packet, containing the rabies vaccine. To make the baits attractive, the sachets containing the vaccine are encased inside hard fishmeal-polymer blocks about the size of a matchbox. The fishmeal polymer baits contain a rabies vaccine that once consumed by a raccoon will vaccinate the animal against the rabies virus. As the number of vaccinated animals in the population increases, the baits act as a buffer to stop the spread of the disease to other wildlife, domestic animals and people.
In urban areas, ground teams are distributing the baits by hand, and in some areas, baits will be distributed by helicopter by Pinellas County Mosquito Control.
This year, the ORV program will redirect the focus towards the management and research of wildlife rabies in Pinellas County. The ORV baiting zone will be 184 square miles distributing approximately 63,000 baits by helicopter, hand baiting on the ground and bait stations.
If your clients find bait near their home, it is best to leave the bait where they found it unless it is on their lawn, driveway or other area not likely to attract a raccoon. While wearing a glove or other protective covering (i.e. plastic bag, paper towel), they can move the bait to an area of thicker cover where a raccoon will be more likely to find it. Be sure to tell them to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with the bait.
Intact baits will do no harm but the smell may get on the skin and is objectionable to most people. If a bait is broken and pink liquid (vaccine) is visible, your clients should protect their hands with gloves, and place the bait in a bag and dispose of it with their regular trash because the bait will no longer be effective. If your clients suspect that they may have been exposed to the vaccine please have them call (877) 722-6725 or 1 (866) 487-3297.
There is no reason for concern if a dog or cat eats a bait. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Eating a large number of baits may cause a temporarily gastrointestinal upset but does not pose a long-term health risk.
Pinellas County Animal Services
12450 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33774