Springtime aerial spreading of rabies vaccine to start


<div>Aerial spreading of rabies vaccine baits for small predators will start this spring again along the south-eastern border. Spreading of baits is intended to prevent possible spread of forest rabies to Finland. </div>

Spreading will be done from May 4 to May 10, 2009. The flights are scheduled to occur between 6 am and 10 pm. During aerial spreading, some 80 000 vaccine baits will be dropped along the south-eastern border. Except for water bodies, the baits will be dropped in a region 25 – 35 km wide that stretches from Tohmajärvi at the latitude of Värtsilä to Virolahti and further along the southern coast to Pyhtää. The flight routes are spaced approximately one kilometre apart. There will be a total of 20 flight routes. The flight area covers about 8 000 km 2.

Vaccine baits used for aerial spreading are brown pieces of size approx. 4 x 4 x 1 cm that weigh about 20 grams each. The vaccine comprises of attenuated rabies viruses not hazardous to animals.

Baits found in the terrain must no be touched, and if a person collects vaccine on the mucous membranes of their mouth and eyes or in open wounds, the contaminated areas are to be washed with water and soap, and the person precautionary to contact a health station.

The rabies situation annually has been monitored by taking samples of wild animals in Finland and in the country's neighbouring regions. A total of 838 brain samples of animals were analyzed in 2008 in Finland with negative results. Most samples were of foxes and raccoon dogs.

In Finland, spreading of bait vaccines along the border areas annually has been undertaken since 1990 and since 2003 spreading has been done twice every year – in the spring and the autumn. No cases of rabies have been found in our country for over 20 years, excepting two cases in 2003 and 2007 involving imported animals, which were destroyed after importing.

In case you encounter a raccoon dogs, fox or other predator in nature, report the case to the municipal or county veterinarian who on their part will deliver the animal to the Food Safety Authority Evira for investigation. These investigations are free of charge.

In addition to animals behaving obscurely and delivered form the field, the occurrence of rabies and the effects of the bait vaccines are monitored through investigations of small predators and particularly of those in the vaccinated area. Foxes and raccoon dogs as well as other small predators hunted down or otherwise found dead in the vaccinated area and its vicinity preferably are delivered for control investigations. Samples are to be sent to Evira's unit for fish and game health in Oulu.

Additional information on rabies:
www.evira.fi > Eläimet ja terveys > Rabies (in Finnish)

Additional information on sending small predators:
www.evira.fi > Research on animal diseases and food > Animal Diseases Research > Packaging and sending instructions > Sending small predators

Additional information:
Head of Section Miia Jakava-Viljanen, Veterinary Virology Research Unit , tel. 050 351 0308
Head of Section Jessica Löfgren-Eriksson, Animal Health and Welfare Unit, tel. 040 572 2897

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