Miami-Dade to Fight Rabies With Vaccination Packets

Miami-Dade is hoping a new vaccination effort will reduce cases of rabies in the county.

Officials announced the new plan on Thursday that will place some 270,000 rabies vaccine bait packets across the county for wildlife to consume. The packets are coated with "fishmeal attractant" that is appetizing for raccoons, foxes and coyotes, and are about the size of a ketchup packet.

Animals puncture the packet and consume the liquid vaccine. The packets will be distributed by hand in areas where wildlife gather to eat, including behind dumpsters and around lakes and waterways.

"The vaccine is a proven, safe and effective way to increase rabies immunity for wildlife, which in turn helps prevent transmission to people and domesticated pets," Miami-Dade Animal Services Chief Veterinarian Dr. Maria Serrano said in a statement. "We performed a successful test run, and our cameras picked up raccoons consuming the vaccines."

Officials said people who find the packets should leave them alone or wear gloves or other protective coverings when handling.

Multiple rabies alerts were issued last year by the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade after raccoons and at least one otter tested positive. Rabies is a nervous system disease that can be fatal in humans and warm-blooded animals, with the only treatment for human exposure being a specific immunization.

For more information on the Miami-Dade County Wildlife Rabies Vaccination Effort, click here.

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