The Allegheny County Health Department rabies-control team will distribute about 230,000 fishmeal baits laced with a rabies vaccine across the region with the aim of eradicating the disease in the raccoon population, according to a press release.
The program has existed in Allegheny County for 12 years and has significantly reduced the number of reports of rabid raccoons, from 23 in 2002 to six so far this year.
While the chances of being infected by the baits are low, people should avoid touching the them with their bare hands, according to the release.
The bait is not harmful to pets, although the health department asked pet owners to bring in excess food and keep their animals from eating the baits, which might otherwise vaccinate a roaming raccoon.
If bait appears near pets, put on rubber gloves and "toss it into a nearby ditch, wooded area, or other raccoon habitat" unless it is partially eaten or damaged, in which case you should seal it in a plastic bag and throw it out, according to the release.
If a blister develops, contact a doctor.
The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is part of a multi-state initiative to eradicate raccoon rabies, according to the release.
Alex Zimmerman: email@example.com or 412-263-3909. Twitter @AGZimmerman.