MIAMI (CBSMiami)- Wildlife in Miami-Dade County has been prone to the dangerous rabies virus before, but county officials made an announcement Thursday that could help control future outbreaks.
Officials said they are working on distributing a rabies vaccine to help improve the immunity of South Florida’s wildlife.
The Animal Services Department partnered with the Florida Department of Health to create a plan to administer the vaccine as soon as this June. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have also contributed to the effort.
According to Miami-Dade County, the vaccine bait packets are called ‘Raboral V-RG, which the animals eat. The packets are coated with fishmeal to lure wildlife including raccoons, foxes, and coyotes.
When animals grab the bait, they puncture a hole into the packages and drink the liquid vaccine inside.
“The vaccine is a proven, safe and effective way to increase rabies immunity for wildlife, which in turn helps prevent transmission to people and domesticated pets,” said Dr. Maria Serrano, Animal Services Department Chief Veterinarian. “We performed a successful test run, and our cameras picked up raccoons consuming the vaccines.”
The county said about 270,000 packets will be spread out in several areas across Miami-Dade, including spots where raccoons and other animals like to eat, such as dumpsters, lakes and around waterways.
Miami-Dade County said those people who find the bait are best to leave it alone. However, if someone does have to remove the bait for whatever reason, the county recommends that they wear some type of protective covering.
If the bait is still closed, it should be thrown into a wooded area. Otherwise, a broken packet can be thrown in the trash.
Officials also said that people should wash their hands with water and soap after coming into contact with the bait.
More information on the rabies vaccine and the county’s efforts can be found here.