Distribution of rabies vaccines begins along Finland's south-eastern border


<p>The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira will begin aerial distribution of rabies bait vaccines along the south-eastern border on the 22nd of September. A total of 180,000 vaccines will be dropped for small predators.&nbsp;</p>

The goal of these annual air drops is to prevent the spread of rabies in wild animals in Finland.

The vaccines will be distributed along the south-eastern border to a zone around 40 kilometres wide ranging from Ilomantsi to Virolahti, and in a 20-kilometres-wide zone following the south coast from the eastern border to Pyhtää. The total surface area of the aerial distribution is around 10,000 square kilometres. Flights will be made daily between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. over a period of around five weeks. The distribution will begin in the northern parts of the area.

Leave baits be in the wild

Baits will be dropped from a plane at intervals of about 60 to 70 metres. They will not be dropped on courtyards, residential areas or waterways.

"Baits that fall near habitation can be moved, wearing protective gloves, to the edge of a forest or some other safe location. Baits found in the terrain must be left alone so that the animals will not refrain from eating them due to human smell. If a lot of baits are found within a very small area, Evira should be informed about it", says Senior Researcher Tiina Nokireki from Evira.

The bait vaccines are brown chunks with a size of around 5 x 4.5 x 1.5 cm, weighing around 30 grams, and smelling strongly of fish extract. The vaccine contained in the bait is in liquid form inside a foil capsule. The vaccine contains attenuated rabies viruses. If the vaccine comes into contact with the mucous membranes of your mouth, nose, or eyes, you must immediately rinse the area with plenty of water for 15 minutes. If the vaccine comes into contact with an open wound or broken skin, the wounds must be washed with plenty of water and soap for 15 minutes and cleaned with 70 per cent alcohol. You must then contact a health centre.

Dogs should not be allowed to eat the vaccine baits. The baits are usually not hazardous to dogs, but vomiting and nausea has been detected in some dogs after eating the vaccine capsule. Please report any adverse reactions to the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea. You can gather berries and mushrooms from the vaccination area.

Send small predators for surveillance

It is important to send foxes, raccoon dogs, and other small predators that were hunted or otherwise died in the vaccination area and its vicinity to Evira for surveillance. Evira monitors the coverage of the vaccine protection and the possible occurrence of rabies from the samples. The samples are sent to Evira's Production animal and wildlife health research unit in Oulu. The laboratory analysis and sending of samples via Matkahuolto are free of charge.

Observations of wild raccoon dogs, foxes or other predators with abnormal behaviour must 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.

Finland has been free of rabies since 1991. In 2013, a total of 893 wild animals were examined for rabies. Most of them were raccoon dogs and foxes. In addition, 43 domestic animals were examined. No rabies was detected in the samples.

Read more:
Adverse effects of veterinary medicines (Fimea)

Further information:
Senior Researcher Tiina Nokireki, tel. +358 50 413 1687 (aerial distribution and rabies diagnostics)
Senior Officer Tiia Tuupanen, tel. +358 40 489 3348 (rabies prevention)
Senior Researcher Marja Isomursu, tel. +358 40 512 1248 (research on small predators)

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