PLATTSBURGH — New York will once again be taking part in a nationally coordinated effort to stop the spread of raccoon rabies in 15 states.

An oral rabies vaccine called ONRAB will be distributed in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. Erie and Niagara counties will also be included, as well as parts of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Bait drops protect human and animal health and reduce the high cost of controlling rabies across broad geographic areas, according to a news release.

Air and hand bait drops will take place in New York from Aug. 10 to 24.

The USDA, APHIS, Wildlife Services National Rabies Management Program (NRMP) was established in 1997 to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies.

Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system of mammals and is always fatal if left untreated. It is usually spread when an infected animal bites another animal.

Wildlife accounts for over 90 percent of all reported rabies cases each year in the U.S., and raccoons are the species most frequently reported.

Continued oral vaccine and bait distribution remains critical to controlling rabies.

The ONRAB bait consists of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blister pack, containing the vaccine. To make the baits attractive to wildlife, the blister packs are coated with vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the bait. However, people who find baits are asked to leave the bait alone.

Should contact with bait occur, immediately rinse the area with warm water and soap and contact Essex County Health Department at 518-873-3500.

Please do not attempt to remove a bait from your dog’s mouth.

The bait will not harm the dog.

If you have additional questions related to the field trial in New York, please contact the Wildlife Services office in Potsdam at (315) 267-2288.

Essex County Health Department reminds all residents to make sure their pets are up to date with rabies vaccinations and to avoid contact with stray or wild animals.

If you or your pet are bitten by a stray or wild animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, seek medical attention and call the Essex County Health Department.

Visit www.co.essex.ny.us/Health for rabies clinic schedules and more information about rabies.