ELIZABETHTOWN — State Department of Health Veterinarian Dr. Bryan Cherry says rabid-animal populations in Essex County are getting bigger.
People must stop feeding feral cats and other wild animals and should vaccinate their pets and maintain vigilance for rabid creatures, he said.
“In the north end of Essex County, you’ve got the most rabid raccoons you’ve seen in this area,” he said. “You don’t have a problem in the High Peaks — raccoons don’t like the elevations.”
Rabies travels up and down the East Coast every year, Cherry told the Essex County Board of Supervisors recently.
“It first moved to New York (state) in 1990. We have watched it move throughout the state. We’ve had (rabies) positive raccoons in the Ticonderoga area, moving up from the south or across from Vermont.”
NEW VACCINE BAIT
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Program is in charge of oral-rabies vaccine distribution and is now using ONRAB packaged baits.
The ONRAB vaccine is used in Canada to control rabies in raccoons, skunks and foxes. It is placed in forests either aerially or by ground distribution.
Use of the new bait has resulted in higher vaccination rates for wild animals, Cherry said.
He said they want to establish a vaccination barrier between Essex and Clinton counties to try to stop animal rabies from spreading farther north.
“You’ve got a lot of rabies activity going on here,” Cherry said. “We were trying to hold raccoon rabies out of Clinton County. This has been a challenge. You have to get the vaccine to a lot of raccoons because they’re a very prolific animal.”
He said trying to create herd immunity for wild animals starts with an immune barrier to rabies expansion and requires intensive, sustained effort.