A program intended to eradicate raccoon rabies will be conducted next week, according to the Allegheny County Health Department.
The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, involves placing baits laced with rabies vaccine that are specifically made to attract raccoons in raccoon habitats.
People should avoid contact with baits, if they see them, and not touch them with bare hands. Instead, use gloves or a shovel to move the bait to a nearby ditch or wooded area. Throw it in a trash can if it is partially eaten or damaged, the health department said.
People who do touch the bait with bare hands should immediately wash their hands and other areas of exposed skin with soap and water. Contact a health-care provider if a rash develops, though that is unlikely, Health Director Karen Hacker said in a news release.
The baiting program will take place Aug. 11-15. Although the vaccine is not harmful to pets, people should keep their pets indoors or on leashes for the next two weeks so that raccoons eat the baits.
The Health Department has also asked that people keep garbage containers securely closed and pet food inside, so that raccoons are hungry and will eat the bait.
This is the 13th year Allegheny County has run its baiting program. Three rabid raccoons have been reported here this year so far, compared with 22 in 2002, the first year of the baiting program, the county said in a news release.