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CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — Starting at the end of this month, 31,320 rabies vaccine baits will be distributed by hand and helicopter throughout mainland Cape May County, officials said.

The county departments of Health and Mosquito Control are working in tandem to distribute the baits in raccoon habitats to reduce instances of the disease, which is fatal to humans, Freeholder Jeffery Pierson said in a news release Tuesday. Weather permitting, the process will take one to two weeks.

“This vaccination program will help to reduce the number of animals with rabies such as raccoons (and) result in fewer encounters between rabid wildlife, pets and people,” Health Officer Kevin Thomas said, adding the bait will have a warning label and include a Health Department telephone number for inquiries and for people to call if contact with the bait occurs.

While the vaccine is not harmful to wild animals or pets and exposure risk to humans is slight, the county urged residents to be aware of what the baits looks like; to encourage children to leave the baits alone; to keep dogs or cats inside or on leashes at least five days after their area has been baited; to avoid trying to take away a bait from a pet, as you may be bitten; and to wash your hands or exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water if you touch the bait or the liquid vaccine inside the bait.

The rabies virus is shed in the saliva of infected animals, according to the release. If you are bitten, wash the wound, seek medical attention right away and call the county Health Department or municipal animal control agency.

Exposure to a rabid or suspected rabid animal calls for rabies shots as soon as possible, according to the release. If a pet has contact with a wild animal, call a veterinarian and the Health Department right away.

Residents with questions can call the Health Department at 609-465-1209. For more information, visit cmchealth.net.

Contact: 609-272-7241

mbilinski@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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