In Manhattan, New York, the Health Department and NYC Parks began vaccinating many raccoons against rabies. Raccoons can easily get sick with rabies and potentially spread it to other mammals or people.
To do so, they use bait that contains an oral rabies vaccine, or ORV for short.
The Health Commissioner is Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. He reportedly stated:
“Rabies can be deadly for people and pets. New Yorkers should ensure their pets are up to date on vaccinations and avoid interactions with wild mammals. From rabies in raccoons to COVID in our City, vaccines work to help keep New Yorkers safe this summer."
Furthermore, the Wildlife Unit Director for NYC Parks is Richard Simon. He also reportedly said:
"Raccoons are a natural part of our city. Although it’s very rare to come into contact with a rabid raccoon, we want to remind all New Yorkers that if you see a raccoon, you should give them space - never approach or try to feed them. We’re grateful for the Department of Health for their partnership in taking this preventative measure to encourage healthier wildlife in our parks."
Since Tuesday, June 15, both NYC Parks and the Health Department will distribute these ORV baits in Manhattan's Inwood Hill and Fort Tryon Parks.
It is part of an ongoing effort to eliminate the rabies virus from Manhattan. There are further rabies vaccine efforts planned for other boroughs, especially in the months ahead.
How the Oral Rabies Vaccine Is Used on Raccoons
The Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) is small and brown-colored. They smell a lot like fish and resemble a ketchup packet of sorts. Inside this packet is a small amount of a very pink and fluid vaccine.
Raccoons are attracted to this type of smell and once they obtain the bait, they will chew it, and then become immunized that way. From there, they are protected from rabies infection and do not pass it onto other people.
While the bait itself does not harm us, there are extremely rare chances where it could result in a rash. If someone did somehow end up in a situation where they made contact with the liquid, it's good to wash your hands right away with warm and soapy water, just to be on the safe side.
Then, you can talk to your doctor about it and if you're really worried, you can also notify the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Also, the bait is not harmful to pets and cannot cause rabies, but if a pet did consume many of these packets in one go, the pet may vomit, so it's best to be on the lookout. If a pet did find the bait, it's advised to not take it away from them, since you might get bitten, get an injury, and the ORV might end up inside your system.
So far, in 2021, there have been official reports of thirteen rabid animals, such as 1 raccoon and 1 cat from the Bronx, 1 raccoon from Manhattan, 1 raccoon from Queens, and 7 raccoons and 2 cats from Staten Island.
Generally, the animals who get rabies are raccoons. Be vigilant if you do see any raccoons out and about, especially at night.
The Severity of Rabies
Rabies is generally a very fatal but easily preventable viral disease. It can easily spread to pets and people if they are bitten by any rabid animal. In New York, specifically, you will find them in raccoons.
When infected, rabies affects your central nervous system, which is your brain and spinal cord. Without the central nervous system, you cannot perform most bodily and mental functions like movements, sensations, thoughts, speech, memory, reflexes, and many more.
You can watch the video below that explains more about rabies:
If a person or pet does not receive the right medical care after potential exposure, then they could easily perish. It's good to vaccinate pets against rabies, stay away from creepy critters, and seek immediate medical care after potential exposure.
When in doubt, just don't touch any stray animals, be cautious, do not feed random animals, vaccinate your pets, keep leashes on your pets, don't leave your pet unattended, etc. For now, just make sure to continue your vigilance, as the people of Manhattan, New York, deserve to feel safe.