Aerial distribution of rabies vaccine baits starts on south-eastern border

25.9.2013

<p>This year Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira starts the aerial distribution of rabies vaccine baits for small predators on the south-eastern border on 26 September. Baits will be dropped every day between 07.00 and 21.00 for a period of four weeks. The purpose of the distribution of vaccine baits is to prevent forest rabies found in wild animals from spreading to Finland.</p>

The baits are distributed on the south-eastern border in a ca. 40-km wide zone extending from Ilomantsi to Virolahti, and further in a 20-km wide zone along the southern coast all the way to Pyhtää. The total aerial distribution area is ca. 10,000 km². A total of 180,000 vaccine baits will be dropped in the campaign.

Leave baits be in the wild

The baits are dropped from the airplane at intervals of 60-70 metres. Baits are not dropped into courtyards, population centres or waterways. Baits that fall near habitation can be moved, wearing protective gloves, to the edge of a forest or some other safe location. Baits found in the terrain must be left alone so that the animals will not refrain from eating them due to human smell. If a lot of baits are found within a very small area, Evira should be informed about it.

The vaccine baits used in aerial distribution are brown pieces approximately 5 x 4.5 x 1.5 cm in size and about 30 grams in weight, with a strong smell of fish extract. The vaccine contained in the bait is in liquid form inside a foil capsule. The vaccine contains attenuated rabies viruses.

Dogs should not be allowed to eat the vaccine baits. The baits are usually not hazardous to dogs, but vomiting and nausea has been detected in some dogs after eating the vaccine capsule. If a vaccine bait is suspected to have caused an adverse reaction in the dog, an adverse reaction notification should be submitted to the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea.

Anyone who accidentally gets the vaccine contained in the foil wrapping on the mucous membranes of their mouth, nose or eyes should rinse the affected areas with plenty of water for 15 minutes. Anyone who is exposed to the vaccine through open wounds or broken skin should wash the wounds with plenty of water and soap for fifteen minutes and then clean the wounds with 70 proof alcohol. They should also contact a health care centre.

Berries and mushrooms can still be picked in the area despite the distribution of the vaccine baits.

Report suspicious animals to authorities

The occurrence of rabies is constantly monitored by examining samples of wild animals. Any sightings in the wild of raccoon dogs, foxes or other predators that behave strangely shall be reported to the municipal or provincial veterinary officer or to the police, who will forward the animal to Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira for examination.

Killed and dead animals from distribution area needed for disease monitoring

It is important that all foxes, raccoon dogs and other small predators that are killed by hunters or found dead in or near the bait vaccination area are sent to Evira for follow-up examination. The purpose of the animal samples is to monitor the coverage of vaccine protection and also any occurrences of rabies. The samples are sent to Evira's Production Animal and Wildlife Research Unit in Oulu. These examinations are free of charge and the samples can be sent using Matkahuolto parcel services, also free of charge.

Finland has been officially rabies-free since 1991. In 2012, a total of 672 wild animals were examined for rabies. Most of them were raccoon dogs and foxes. In addition, 36 domestic animals were examined. All samples were negative for rabies.

For more information, please contact:
Tiina Nokireki, Senior Researcher, Veterinary Virology Research Unit, tel. +358 50 413 1687 (aerial distribution and rabies diagnostics)

Tiia Tuupanen, Senior Officer, Animal Health and Welfare Unit, tel. +358 40 489 3348 (rabies prevention

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