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                                                                                     MEDIA RELEASE

July 22, 2022
CONTACT: Kara Kane / / (716) 858-4941




Fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and vector control staff on the ground will distribute bite-size rabies vaccine for wildlife populations in Western New York


ERIE COUNTY – As it has done in previous years, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Rabies Management Program is partnering with the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) to distribute rabies vaccine to wildlife populations this summer.


Oral rabies vaccine – small green packets the size of a quarter coin – will be dropped from helicopters from August 1-5. Ground bait distribution in urban and suburban areas of Erie County will begin around August 1 as well. Fixed wing aircraft will run from about August 15-18 for counties in Western New York: Erie, Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming. This schedule is dependent on weather conditions.


“Protecting pets with a rabies vaccine is easy enough with a visit to the veterinarian or one of our free rabies vaccine clinics,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Vaccinating wildlife in all corners of the county is much more challenging. But with the USDA and its oral rabies vaccination (ORV) program, animals like raccoons, skunks and foxes – which are reservoirs for rabies virus – are protected against this deadly disease. This adds another layer of protection against rabies for pets and for humans.”


“We need to be vigilant when it comes to preventing rabies in wildlife populations,” said Senior Public Health Sanitarian Peter Tripi, who manages the county’s Vector Control Program. “By reducing the risk of this disease in wild animals, we are adding an additional line of defense to protect pet health and public health. I greatly appreciate the effective partnership that ECDOH and the USDA have forged, with them in the sky and us on the ground.”


Residents who come in contact with wildlife vaccine packets can call the NYSDOH Rabies Information Line (888) 574-6656 with questions or concerns.

·         Do NOT disturb vaccine packets. Most packets are eaten within four days; almost all baits will be gone within a week. If packets are not found and eaten, they will harmlessly dissolve and exposed vaccine will become inactivated. If you must move a vaccine packet, wear gloves or use a plastic bag or paper towel to pick it up. Place any damaged baits in the trash; throw intact baits into a wooded area or other raccoon/wildlife habitat.

·         Residents should WASH HANDS IMMEDIATELY if they come into direct contact with the vaccine or packets, then call the NYSDOH Rabies Information Line at (888) 574-6656.


Additional recommendations include:

·         Supervise children’s outdoor activities during bait distribution and for one week afterward.

·         Confine dogs and cats indoors and observe leash laws during the bait distribution interval and for one week afterward. This will increase the probability of raccoon vaccination and decrease the chance of pets finding the baits.

·         Baits and vaccines are not harmful to domestic animals. However, an animal may vomit if it consumes several baits.

·         Residents should not risk being bitten while trying to remove bait from your pet’s mouth.


Image of oral rabies vaccine bait, front and back, next to a quarter coin to show size.


New York State map showing 2022 oral rabies vaccination zones.



Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) Rabies, Rodents, Arboviruses and Related Information:  

New York State Department of Health, Rabies:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rabies: