Rabies Update

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1993:

New Jersey Department of Health veterinarian Colin T. Campbell told a region-
al conference on rabies held March 24 in Syracuse, New York, that the state of New Jersey
has allocated only $55,000 of the estimated $160,000 necessary to complete a two-year field
trial of the long-awaited Wistar orally administered raccoon rabies vaccine on the Cape May
peninsula. The state Department of Environmental Protection and Energy is seeking grants to
make up the balance. The vaccine is embedded in bait balls; raccoons who take the bait
vaccinate themselves. The bait balls are being air-dropped in batches of 20,000 at a time,
directed at the probable corridors of raccoon movement from the vicinity of the nearest
known rabies cases, which are presently about eight miles away. About 145,000 bait balls
will be dropped in total if the project is successfully completed.

The mid-Atlantic raccoon rabies pandemic currently centers around New York
City, after missing the metropolitan area two years ago when it jumped from New Jersey to
Connecticut. From March 1992, when the pandemic hit until March 1993, 436 New York
City residents required rabies shots, up from a previous average of about 25 a year.
Statewide, 1,088 New Yorkers got the shots. Forty-six rabid raccoons, one rabid bat, one
rabid skunk, and a rabid opossum have been found on Staten Island and Manhattan. The lat-
ter is a rarity, as opossum sensitivity to the rabies virus is believed to be very low.
A rabid raccoon bit an unidentified man in Yonkers on April 13. The man fled
the scene before he could be identified, starting an intense search by police and health offi-
cials, but at the ANIMAL PEOPLE deadline he was apparently still at large.
Concerned veterinarians may request subscriptions to The Rabies Monitor, a new
bulletin on rabies control research, from Rhone Merieux, 115 Transtech Drive, Athens, GA
30601. Rhone Merieux is the world’s leading manufacturer of rabies vaccines, including the
orally administered fox rabies vaccine used successfully in Europe for nearly 20 years.
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