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


<p>The aerial distribution of rabies vaccine baits for small predators along the south-eastern border will start this autumn on Friday 30 September 2011. According to plans, the distribution of baits is to be completed within four weeks. The flights are scheduled to occur daily between 7 am and 8 pm. Vaccine baits are distributed for the purpose of seeking to prevent the possible spreading of forest rabies to Finland.</p>

The area in which vaccine baits will be distributed has been expanded this year due to the rabies case found in the Russian Karelia. The baits will be distributed in a 40-km wide zone, excluding waterways, 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. 10,000km². A total of 180,000 vaccine baits will be dropped in the campaign.

The vaccine baits used in the aerial spreading 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 contains attenuated rabies viruses which are not hazardous to animals.

Baits found in the terrain must be left alone so that the animals will not refrain from eating them due to human smell. Anyone who accidentally touches the foil wrapping than an animal has bitten open and is thereby exposed to the vaccine e.g. through open wounds on the hands, or gets vaccine on the mucous membranes of their mouth or eyes, should rinse the contaminated areas carefully with water, and if necessary, wash them using soap. They should also contact a health care centre.

Finland has been officially rabies-free since 1991. The occurrence of rabies is constantly monitored by examining samples of wild animals. In addition, small predators are being examined in or near the bait vaccination area to monitor the effectiveness of the vaccine baits. In 2010, a total of 445 wild animals were examined for rabies. Most of them were raccoon dogs and foxes. In addition, 45 domestic animals were examined. All samples were negative for rabies.

Any sightings in nature of raccoon dogs, foxes or other predators that are behaving 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. 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 samples are sent to Evira's Production Animal and Wildlife Research Unit in Oulu. These examinations are free of charge.

For more information, please contact:
Tiina Nokireki, Senior Researcher, Veterinary Virology Research Unit, tel. +358 50 413 1687
Ulla-Maija Kokkonen, Senior Researcher, Veterinary Virology Research Unit, tel. +358 50 526 2065
Tiia Tuupanen, Senior Officer, Animal Health and Welfare Unit, tel. +358 40 489 3348

Related Categories: