QUÉBEC CITY, Aug. 17, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Starting on August 17, the Québec government will launch an operation to distribute vaccine baits in the Montérégie, Estrie and Montréal regions, in order to maintain and enhance the immunity of raccoons, skunks and foxes against rabies. Depending on the area concerned, the baits will be distributed from the air or by hand.
From August 17 to 23, 2015 inclusively, planes will fly at low altitude, mainly over wooded zones, to drop around 380,000 vaccine baits over an area of roughly 3,500 km2. In all, 20 municipalities in the Estrie region and 43 municipalities in the Montérégie region will be affected.
From August 17 to September 12, inclusively, baits will be distributed by hand in agricultural zones or close to homes to better target areas where raccoons, skunks or foxes may be concealed. Teams from the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) will cover an area of almost 4,000 km² in 10 municipalities in the Estrie region, 78 municipalities in the Montérégie region and 9 parks in the Montréal area. They will place around 246,000 baits in the natural habitats of raccoons, skunks and foxes, which include wooded areas, areas adjacent to water and, occasionally, areas around garbage cans.
Vaccine baits resemble large, olive-green ravioli. They are approximately 40 mm by 22 mm by 10 mm. Due to their colour, they blend into the background and are quite difficult to spot on the ground. They are also very strong, having been designed to withstand the impact of an air drop. In general, they have to be perforated before they release the liquid vaccine they contain, which occurs when a wild animal bites into them.
Since this spring, the MFFP has enhanced its surveillance and control activities following the discovery of rabid raccoons a few kilometres across the US border, in Franklin County, New York. Between March and June 2015, 13 rabid animals were detected in the area, and on June 4, a case of raccoon rabies was confirmed in the Québec portion of the Akwesasne reserve. A campaign to vaccinate wild animals against rabies had never been conducted in this area. Following the discovery of this case, vaccine was distributed by hand in mid-June, in collaboration with the Aboriginal and Ontario authorities. This case of rabies does not pose a threat to the rest of Québec, since the swampy ground between Akwesasne and the Montérégie region is not conducive to raccoon and skunk movements.
Although no cases of raccoon rabies have been recorded elsewhere in Québec since 2009, there is a real risk of reintroduction, and rabies remains a fatal disease for humans. Surveillance and vaccination operations will continue to ensure that the disease is not reintroduced into Québec, and cooperation from the general public is a vital part of this effort. The MFFP asks all citizens to be its eyes and ears on the ground
Instructions for citizens
To ensure the success of these operations, citizens in the regions concerned must comply with the following instructions:
- Avoid handling vaccine baits, even though they are considered safe for people, pets and the environment.
- If you come into contact with perforated or broken baits, call the number that appears on the bait or dial 811 to contact the Info-Santé service.
- Do not trap wild animals (raccoons, skunks, foxes or any other mammals) and then relocate them, to avoid spreading the disease to another region.
- Report raccoons, skunks or foxes that are disoriented, abnormally aggressive, paralyzed or dead by calling 1 877 346-6763 or completing the on-line form on the website rageduratonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca.
It is also advisable at all times to:
- Never approach any unknown animals, whether wild or domesticated.
- Have animals that go outside, especially dogs and cats, vaccinated against rabies.
- Keep garbage containers outside and beyond the reach of animals.
- Clean any wound, even small, with soap and water for 10 minutes if you are bitten, and contact Info-Santé by dialling 811 as quickly as possible to obtain medical assistance if needed.
- Consult a veterinarian if your pet is bitten by or comes into contact with a wild animal.
About the plan to combat raccoon rabies
Raccoon rabies surveillance and control operations are managed by an interdepartmental committee bringing together representatives from the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, the public health offices for the Estrie, Montérégie, Montréal, Laval and Chaudière‑Appalaches regions, the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation, Services Québec, the Ministère de la Sécurité publique and the Faculté de médecine vétérinaire at Université de Montréal.
For more details on the vaccination operation or to download a map showing the 2015 surveillance and control operations and a list of the municipalities affected by the vaccination operation, go to the website www.rageduratonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca. For more information on rabies, go to the website www.rage.gouv.qc.ca..
SOURCE Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs
For further information: Jacques Nadeau, Media relations, Direction des communications, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, Phone: 418 627-8609, extension 3071