Autumn airdrops of rabies vaccine to start


<div>The airdrops of rabies vaccine baits for oral immunisation of small predators will this autumn start on the southeast border of Finland on 15 September 2008. According to plans the operation will be completed within two weeks. The flights will take place daily between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. 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 within a 25-35 km wide zone, excluding waterways, that runs from Värtsilä in Tohmajärvi along the south coast all the way to Pyhtää. The distance between the flight paths is about 1 km. The total area is ca. 8000 km2 and it will be covered by a total of 20 flight paths.

The airdrop vaccine baits are ca. 4x4x1 cm brown cubes that weigh ca. 20 g. They contain attenuated 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 advice just to be on the safe side.

Airdrops of vaccine baits have been implemented in Finland on an annual basis since 1990, and on a twice annual basis – in the spring and in the autumn – since 2003. No cases of rabies have been diagnosed in Finland for more than 19 years, with the exception of two imported animals in 2003 and 2007, which were euthanised soon after they arrived in Finland.

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

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 Fish and Wildlife Health Research Unit of Evira to Oulu.

For more information, please contact:
Liisa Kaartinen, Head of Research Unit, Veterinary Virology Research Unit, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24577, +358 (0) 40 840 7364

Tiia Tuupanen, Veterinary Officer, Animal Health and Wellfare Unit, tel. +358 (0) 20 77 24215, +358 (0) 400 922 756

Related Categories: