Oral rabies vaccinations in New Brunswick

New Brunswick oral rabies vaccination team

The oral rabies vaccination team – NB Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, July 2018. From left to right, back row: Gavin Hiscock (far left), Mariah Belyea, Mike Allan (NB Provincial Rabies Coordinator), and Courtney Donovan. Front row: Giselle Kan, Jenna Thebeau (CWHC Atlantic, AVC), and Natalie Tocco (AVC).

In recent years, the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries of New Brunswick (NB) distributes oral rabies vaccines, targeting skunks and raccoons to prevent the spread of rabies variants in the wildlife population. Since 2014, 12 cases of rabies have been confirmed in skunks and raccoons in Charlotte County, NB. Targeted areas for vaccine distribution are highly populated urban areas, and rural areas bordering Maine, US. Vaccines are distributed by hand in urban areas and aerially in rural areas.

Jenna Thebeau, a summer student working for the CWHC Atlantic Region, and Natalie Tocco are 3rd year students from the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) that gained some hands-on experience with distributing oral vaccine baits in urban areas of Fredericton, NB this July. Each year, the CWHC Atlantic Region dedicates time to help out with the rabies vaccination program to prevent the spread of this disease.  “It’s great to learn which environmental factors determine the density of wildlife populations in urban areas. The food and habitat resources these animals target gives us insight on which sites to bait more heavily”, says Jenna.

A live human adenovirus vector is used for the oral vaccines, which rarely has a significant effect on non-target species. While it is unlikely to come into contact with the vaccine bait, public awareness is key to ensure safety of people and their pets. A toll free number can be found on the back of the vaccine bait, in the event of human (or pet) contact. Further information about the oral vaccine program, and other preventative measures can be found at https://goo.gl/NTmUnb.

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