A highlight from Largest Rabies Vaccination Campaign In State History Continues On Cape Cod

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If we told you about a massive vaccination effort underway on cape cod last week in this. I doubt you would guess that we were talking about raccoons. Well actually you might guess because we spoke with wildlife biologist. Brian bjorklund back in july. As on the ground and aerial rabies vaccine efforts for raccoons began on the cape. And this is actually pretty fascinating stuff folks that effort wrapped up the same month. But this fall out of an abundance of caution. They started again. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of rabies vaccine doses on the ground and by helicopter. It is now the largest rabies inoculation effort in state history. So we've asked. Brian bjorklund back. Wildlife rabies biologists cape cod rabies program coordinator with the usda. Brian welcome back. Thank you for having me. So you're out in the field right now getting vaccines to raccoons. How's that working to bring us. Where are you. What are you doing today. How does it physically work from actually back in my office right now but we had been working at foulness and on joint base cape cod distributing these oral rabies vaccine bates scenarios where coyotes and raccoons and foxes are likely to come across them We do have Several other town in town and county employees that are out as we speak distributing these bates across the landscape in foulness mashpee barnstable yarmouth. Dennis chatham and harwich and we'll be doing so for the remainder of the week. You put this stuff out there. You're dropping it literally from the sky. Guttering it on the ground. How do you know. And i'm chuckling. At the coyotes coyotes raccoons and foxes. Oh my kind of them of that but high you know they're eating them. Yep so so. The aerial operations actually concluded last thursday. So we baited from lakeville in plymouth county to orleans on the cape From monday between monday and thursday and we distributed roughly one hundred fifty or one hundred. I'm sorry one hundred just over one hundred thousand of these bates from air And we're we were flying at about three hundred feet so we're able to pretty much pinpoint where these bates are going And access areas that. We can't really get to from the ground And then this week where we're focused on ground operations so bathing areas where we couldn't really you know fly to get these bates out You know too. Many people in their pets On the landscape so we share. The animals are going to eat them in second. What happens if the pet seat him. Yup so i'll let your second question first So the bates are generally considered safe for pets and people If if your dog were to consume one or more of the bates here she may may experience an upset stomach from the fishmeal coating on the outside of the debate But they they have a long track record of being very very safe for people in their pets And each is stamped with an eight hundred number that we request the if somebody were to find the to call just report you know where they where they found the animal but then once this whole operation is wrapped up we re. Usda will return to the areas where we put the bates out and live trap raccoons and other rabies vectors to take some blood samples and see what the vaccination rates were As a result of the the the base distribution all right. So i. I gotta ask you. We're talking about. I'm sorry what feels to me as a lay person to be a massive vaccination effort here. Why is it because rabies is fatal to mammals if they get it and they can't get treated as it because i was shocked to discover that there was actually a time when trust real animals not in my lifetime actually didn't have rabies in massachusetts. Why are we doing this short. So as you mentioned The rabies viruses nearly one hundred percent fatal if not treated In massachusetts raccoon rabies was first discovered in nineteen ninety two and That prompted representative from from down on the cape Tufts university and the centers for disease control to set up this program to see what they could do to prevent rabies from eventually getting to the cape and that held true for over ten years but then in two thousand and four we found a rabid raccoon born just over the canal and despite our best efforts to prevent it from spreading all the way to to province down it did within two years so since then we've been working really hard to get get rabies back off. Get get rabies back off the cape And we went over eight years without having a single case of terrestrial based so so raccoon based rabies on the cape and that was really outstanding and it was tremendously successful This past may documented our first case in hyannis and over eight years and that prompted this whole effort to To make sure that we snuff out whatever's out there on the cape so that we don't you know relive what we had experienced back in two thousand and four so i just want to clarify for listeners. Aerial being bats versus terrestrial. Right all right so last question for you. I kind of imagine something sort of apocalypse. Now with the bait falling from the sky and helicopters and being spread across the ground. Is this like the new normal. Be talking to you next year about the hundreds of thousands of vaccines. You're going to be spreading so so we we have done this Conducted this distribution program Twice annually for the past. Well at least two thousand five So it's it's not really a new program but But to this extent where we're reading from lakeville to orleans that's somewhat new and that's in response to this to that case that we had in hyannis We're not really sure what we're going to be doing next spring It really depends on rabies surveillance results and if any other cases arise on the cape So i can't really tell you what the plans are for next year. Check in with you. Yeah absolutely all right brian. Bjorklund is a wildlife rabies biologists in the cape cod rabies program coordinator with the usda. Brian grits talk to you. Thanks for coming back and joining us. Thank you very much.

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