DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) – Miami-Dade Animal Services has launched a new countywide program to help prevent rabies among wildlife.
MDAF spokesperson Peter Cuervo discussed the new undertaking on Friday.
“This is our first shot at it,” he said.
Vaccine baits that resemble dirty ketchup packets are being distributed in June to boost immunity against the disease.
Such [animals] as raccoons, coyotes and foxes,” said Cuervo.
Officials said they are determined to prevent the spread of rabies.
“We had 11 cases last year. Eight of them were raccoons, two of them were cats, and one was an otter that, I believe, bit a man,” said Cuervo.
Officials said the baiting program has a specific goal.
“When domestic animals come in contact with raccoons that have already been exposed to the baits with the rabies vaccine, they will not transmit rabies to other animals, to other humans or domestic animals,” said Cuervo.
The program will last three years. About 275,000 baits will be distributed every six months in areas where wildlife commonly eat, like dumpsters, around lakes and waterways.
Cuervo said areas like downtown Miami won’t see as many packets.
“The packets correspond to the grids that already been mapped out, and each one of these employees will actually be deploying these baits by hand,” he said.
Once a crew member arrives at one of the predetermined locations, they will take a handful of the rabies vaccine packets and toss them out.
The vaccine is distributed to the animals once they bite the packets and consume the liquid inside. It has been proven effective in more than 60 species.
Officials said the animal-friendly bait will help keep the community safe and will not harm pets.
After distribution, crews will trap some of the exposed raccoons to test how effective the vaccines are.
“We’ll find out,” said Cuervo.
Residents are advised to leave the packets alone if they discover any of them.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.