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

Québec City, August 7, 2018 – Beginning on August 10, 2018, the Québec Government will launch an operation to spread vaccine baits in Montérégie and the metropolitan 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 10 to 13, 2018, aircraft will fly at low altitude over an area of roughly 1,398 km2, mainly over woodland, to drop approximately 175,000 rabies vaccine baits. A total of 32 municipalities in Montérégie will be covered.

Baits will also be spread manually from August 13 to 31, 2018, 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 2,373 km² and will spread 169,000 baits. The operation will target 51 municipalities in Montérégie and nine parks in the metropolitan area.

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

  • At all times, if you are bitten, scratched or have another type of contact with an animal’s saliva, wash the wound, even if it seems minor, with soap and water for 10 minutes and promptly contact Info-Santé at 811 to ensure proper follow-up.
  • Residents who live in enhanced surveillance  and control  area can contribute significantly to the fight against raccoon rabies. They are asked to report dead raccoons, skunks and foxes or animals that seem disoriented, injured, unusually aggressive or paralysed by contacting the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs at 1-877-346-6763 or by visiting rageduratonlaveur.gouv.qc.ca .
  • Never approach an unknown wild or domestic animal even if it seems inoffensive.
  • Consult your veterinarian to have your domestic pets vaccinated against rabies.
  • Take steps to avoid attracting troublesome animals on your property, for example, by ensuring that outdoor garbage cans are out of reach.
  • Avoid moving troublesome or undesirable animals since you could spread diseases such as rabies to other territories.
  • Consult a veterinarian if your pet is bitten by or comes into contact with a wild animal likely 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 2018 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 Ministère de la Sécurité publique, and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Université de Montréal.

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