Pennsylvania officials aim to fend off wildlife rabies spread


Harrisburg, Pa. - Pennsylvania began its oral rabies baiting program in August.

Harrisburg, Pa. — Pennsylvania began its oral rabies baiting program in August.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff reports the annual oral rabies vaccination baiting (ORV) program, which helps control rabies in wild animals, will cover all or parts of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

"Controlling rabies in wild animals is essential to human health, as well as domestic animals," Wolff says. "The ORV program has been an effective tool in combating the further spread of rabies, with a decrease of nearly 50 percent in the last five years."

Wildlife rabies accounts for almost 93 percent of the reported rabies cases in the United States, and raccoons account for more than 50 percent of this total. Although the primary focus is to vaccinate raccoons, other animals such as dogs, cats, cattle, horses, skunks and foxes also benefit from the program.

Officials will spread bait sachets to densely populated areas by hand. On Sept. 5, low-flying aircraft will drop sachets in sparsely populated areas. The vaccine sachet is placed inside fishmeal bait, or coated with a flavored substance. When the raccoon punctures the sealed plastic package, the vaccine is released into its mouth.

Six agencies — the state departments of Agriculture and Health, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Erie County Health Department, Allegheny County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control — are collaborating with USDA's Wildlife Services for this program.

For more information about the ORV baiting program, visit

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