Miami-Dade County announced on June 13 a new, countywide effort to distribute rabies vaccine baits to boost immunity against rabies in wildlife.
The vaccine distribution is expected to take place this month in a plan developed by the Animal Services Department together with the Florida Department of Health and with input from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The rabies vaccine bait packets, called Raboral V-RG, are specifically designed for wildlife consumption. They are coated with a fishmeal attractant that is appetizing for wildlife such as raccoons, foxes and coyotes, and it is packaged in a two-inch plastic package (sachet) that resembles a common ketchup packet. Wildlife puncture the package and consume the liquid vaccine.
Approximately 270,000 units will be distributed by hand in both rural and inhabited areas across the county. Distribution teams will strategically focus on areas where raccoons and other wildlife typically populate to eat, such as behind dumpsters and around lakes and waterways.
“The vaccine is a proven, safe and effective way to increase rabies immunity for wildlife, which in turn helps prevent transmission to people and domesticated pets,” said Dr. Maria Serrano, Animal Services Department chief veterinarian. “We performed a successful test run, and our cameras picked up raccoons consuming the vaccines.”
If vaccine packets are found, it is best to leave them alone. Otherwise, it is recommended to wear gloves or use another protective covering, such as paper or a plastic bag, before handling. If intact, they can be tossed into a wooded area where a raccoon or fox will be more likely to find them. Baits that have been broken open can be placed in the regular trash. Thorough hand washing with soap and water after any contact with a vaccine packet is recommended.
For more information about the rabies vaccines, visit the rabies page on the Animal Services Department website or watch the video at https://youtu.be/_ab-A2UGp38. For questions about human health, call the Department of Health in Miami-Dade County Epidemiology, Disease Control & Immunization Services at 305-470-5660.