Raccoon Rabies Prevention – Wild animal vaccination operation in the Eastern townships, Montérégie and Montreal area parks

Québec, August 15, 2017 –  Beginning on August 19, the Québec Government will launch an operation to spread vaccine baits in Montérégie, the Eastern Townships and the Greater Montreal area, to maintain and enhance raccoon rabies immunity among raccoon, skunk and fox populations. The baits will be spread manually or by air, depending on the area concerned.

From August 19 to 24, aircraft will fly at low altitude over an area of roughly 2,640 km2, mainly over woodland, to drop approximately 289,000 rabies vaccine baits. A total of 49 municipalities in the Eastern Townships and Montérégie will be covered.

Baits will also be spread manually from August 25 to September 12, mostly on farmland and close to homes, in spots where raccoons, skunks and foxes may be concealed, such as woodlands, waterside zones and areas around garbage cans. Teams from the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs will cover an area of roughly 3,700 km² and will spread 260,000 baits. The operation will target 73 municipalities in Montérégie and nine parks in the metropolitan Montreal region.

What do vaccine baits look like?

  • The vaccine baits look like large olive-green ravioli.
  • They measure roughly 4 cm by 2 cm by 1 cm.
  • They are very solid (they are designed to be impact-resistant when dropped from the air).
  • The bait container must be perforated to spread the liquid vaccine. This occurs when the wild animal bites it.
  • Because of their colour, the baits merge into their environment and are difficult to identify once on the ground.
  • They have a vanilla odour that attracts wild animals.

Advice for citizens during the vaccine operation

  • The vaccine baits are intended for wild animals, and you should avoid handling them.
  • Although the vaccine baits are considered safe, please take the following steps if you come into contact with a perforated or broken bait:
  • Wash your hands and any other part of your body that came into contact with the bait, using soap and water.
  • Call the number on the back of the bait or dial 811 to contact Info-Santé

Important reminders

  • If, at any time, you are bitten or scratched by an animal or come into contact with its saliva, clean the wound, however minor it may seem, for 10 minutes using soap and water, and contact Info-Santé immediately by dialling 811, to obtain proper medical assistance.
  • If you live in an enhanced surveillance area, you can play an important role in helping to prevent raccoon rabies by reporting dead raccoons, skunks and foxes, and any wild animals that are disoriented, injured, unusually aggressive or paralyzed. You may do this by contacting the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs at 1 877 346-6763 or by completing the online form at rageduratonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca.
  • Never approach an unknown animal, whether wild or domesticated, even if it looks harmless.
  • See your vet to have your pet animals vaccinated against rabies.
  • Take steps to avoid attracting wild animals onto your property, for example by putting garbage cans out of reach of wild animals.
  • Do not relocate unwanted wild animals. Relocation can spread diseases such as rabies to other areas.
  • Consult a vet if your pet is bitten by or comes into contact with a wild animal or an animal that may be able to transmit rabies.

Some essential information

  • The public health issues of raccoon rabies are significant, because the disease is fatal to humans.
  • Cases of raccoon rabies are discovered every year in the United States, close to the border with Québec.
  • The threat of rabies is real because animal movements, whether natural or not, help spread diseases such as rabies.
  • Enhanced surveillance activities have been maintained in 2017 so that raccoon rabies will not be introduced into Québec.
  • Raccoon rabies prevention operations are managed by an inter-ministerial committee composed of representatives from the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux, the public health departments of the Eastern Townships, Montérégie and Montreal, the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, the regional public safety and fire departments of Montérégie and the Eastern Townships, and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Université de Montréal.

For further information on raccoon rabies in Québec: rageduratonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca.