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


<p>The aerial spreading of rabies vaccine baits for small predators along the south-eastern border will start this spring on 28 April 2011. According to plans, the spreading of baits is to be completed within two weeks. The flights are scheduled to occur daily between 7 am and 9 pm. Vaccine baits are spread for the purpose of seeking to prevent the possible spreading of forest rabies to Finland.</p>

 During aerial spreading, a total of 80,000 vaccine baits will be dropped on the south-eastern border. The baits will be spread in a 25-30 km-wide zone, excluding waterways, from Tohmajärvi at the latitude of Värtsilä to Virolahti and further along the southern coast to Pyhtää. The total aerial spreading area is 5,000km², of which waterways account for 1,000km².

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 not be touched. Anyone who comes into contact with any of the vaccine on the mucous membranes of their mouth or eyes or in open wounds should rinse the contaminated areas carefully with water, and if necessary, wash using soap, and 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 the 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 5262065
Tiia Tuupanen, Senior Officer, Animal Health and Welfare Unit,
tel. +358 400 920 503

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