The success story in Nassau and Suffolk counties, part of New York’s Long Island, is being attributed to Cornell’s Wildlife Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. The program was initiated during the mid-1990s.
The World Health Organization defines such success as a lack of rabies cases after two years of enhanced surveillance, according to Laura Bigler, Ph.D., a Cornell wildlife biologist and program coordinator. The last raccoon rabies case in Nassau County was in November 2007. Suffolk County’s last case was in January 2009.
Cornell’s program uses a U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed liquid rabies vaccine hidden inside a small sachet that is coated with fishmeal and fish oil. Raccoons are attracted to the bait by its fishy smell, according to the university. The raccoons puncture the baits and ingest the liquid vaccine.
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