Airdrops of rabies vaccine to start


<div>The airdrops of rabies vaccine baits for oral immunisation of small predators will this year take place on the southeast border of Finland during 4 May to 16 May 2007. The purpose of the baits is to prevent potential propagation of forest rabies to Finland.</div>

During the airdrop programme a total of 80 000 vaccine baits will be dropped near the southeast border, in an area from Virolahti to Tohmajärvi, and along the south coast all the way to Pyhtää. The total area is ca. 8 000 km2, in the form of a 25-35 km wide zone.

The airdrop vaccine baits are ca. 4x4x1 cm cubes that weigh ca. 20 g. They contain inactivated rabies viruses that are harmless to the animals.

The baits should not be touched if seen in the forest. Persons who get the vaccine on the mucous membranes of the mouth or the eyes, or on open wounds, should wash the affected areas, and seek medical treatment just to be on the safe side.

The vaccination campaign has proven effective. No cases of rabies have been diagnosed in Finland for more than 16 years in raccoon dogs, foxes or dogs.

Any sightings of strangely behaving raccoon dogs, foxes or other predators should be reported to an official veterinarian, e.g. a municipal or provincial veterinary officer, who will forward the destroyed or dead animal to the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira for examination. The examinations are free of charge.

In addition to cases of clinical suspicion, the occurrence of rabies and the effectiveness of the vaccine baits are monitored, particularly in the airdrop programme area. The authorities also hope that samples of any foxes or raccoon dogs killed by hunters in and near the area will be sent for follow-up examination. The samples are sent to the Oulu Regional Research Unit of Evira.

For more information, please contact:
Veterinarian Miia Jakava-Viljanen, Virology Research Unit , tel.+ 358 20 77 24587, +358 50 351 0308
Veterinary officer Sari Haikka, Animal Health and Welfare Unit, tel. + 358 20 77 24215, +358 400 922 715

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