The distribution of the rabies vaccine in bait form will begin on April 29 and last through the end of May, according to release from the Town of Orleans. The bait packs--approximately 80,000 of them--will be distributed in wooded areas in the towns of Barnstable, Brewster, Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, Orleans and Yarmouth.
The vaccine distribution, a partnership between the Cape Cod Rabies Task Force and the US Department of Agriculture/Wildlife Services is intended to control raccoon rabies on Cape Cod.
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.
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 through May.
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.
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. The bait is not harmful to pets if ingested, but it is suggested that dogs be leashed when walking in the woods.
In February of this year a bat tested positive for rabies in Wellfleet.
To learn more about the prevention of rabies in wildlife, visit the USDA website here.