Aerial spreading of rabies vaccine starts on south-eastern border


<p>Aerial spreading of rabies vaccine baits for small predators along the south-eastern border will start this autumn on Thursday 30 September 2010. According to plans, the spreading of baits is to be completed within three weeks. The flights are scheduled to occur daily between 7 am and 9 pm. The purpose of the spreading of vaccine baits is 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 are 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 5000 km2, of which waterways account for 1000 km2.

The vaccine baits used for aerial spreading are brown pieces approx. 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 comprises attenuated rabies viruses not hazardous to animals.

Baits found in the terrain must not be touched. Anybody who collects vaccine on the mucous membranes of their mouth and eyes or in open wounds should wash the contaminated areas carefully with water, and if necessary, with soap, and contact a health care centre.

Predators are being constantly studied for rabies. Any sightings of strangely behaving raccoon dogs, foxes or other predators should 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.

In addition to suspiciously behaving animals found in the field and sent to Evira, the occurrence of rabies and the effectiveness of the vaccine baits are also monitored by examining small predators, particularly in the airdrop programme area. The authorities hope that samples of any foxes or raccoon dogs killed by hunters or found dead in and near the area will be sent for follow-up examination. The samples are sent to the Evira's Research Unit of Fish and Game Health in Oulu. The examinations are free of charge.

For more information, please contact:
Miia Jakava-Viljanen, Section Head, Veterinary Virology Research Unit, tel. +358 (0) 50 351 0308
Miia Kauremaa, Senior Officer, Animal Health and Welfare Unit, tel. +358 (0) 400 318 510

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