By ground and by air, the bi-annual rabies vaccine drop is underway this week in Cape Cod and Southeastern Massachusetts.
The state’s Rabies Task Force is distributing about 80,000 oral rabies vaccine baits by hand and by helicopter throughout Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Barnstable, Plymouth, Wareham, Carver, Kingston, Middleboro, Rochester, Marion, and Lakeville.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Biologist Brian Bjorklund said that the goal for the bait release is to eradicate rabies in this area by having wildlife find and eat the vaccines.
He said the Cape had been rabies-free for over 8 years until May 2021 when a case was detected in the mid-Cape area.
“We’re pretty much back where we were prior to that one case,” Bjorklund said, adding that they believe the rabies case was from a relocated raccoon. “Both the raccoon’s DNA and the rabies virus DNA were from Plymouth County and that directly points to a re-location event.”
Homeowners who find any of the baits in their yards should remove them while wearing gloves. If a pet eats one, they are not toxic to animals, although officials say it may cause an upset stomach.
This edible bait is about the size of a matchbox. To make the bait attractive to wildlife, it’s sprinkled with a fishmeal coating.
Officials remind residents they cannot get rabies from the vaccines and that any bait they come across outside their yards should be left undisturbed if possible.
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