The Ontario government is protecting people and animals against rabies by continuing its vaccine bait drop program to fight the outbreak of raccoon and fox strain rabies that began in 2015.
From June 20 to mid-September, rabies baits will be distributed by hand in urban areas of Brant, Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Norfolk, Ohsweken, Oxford, Waterloo and Wellington. Baiting will also occur in the city of Cornwall and Cornwall Island in mid-August.
Staff will focus on raccoon and skunk habitat, such as bushes, green spaces and ravines where animals may forage, or along fence lines, hedges and large culverts. Baits are not distributed near schools, playgrounds, or where children are likely to be present.
In more rural areas, aircraft will be used to drop baits. Baits help to immunize most raccoons, skunks and foxes that eat them. Baiting is an important part of our rabies control plan – one of the most successful in North America.
Baiting by aircraft will start August 7 in St. Lawrence in Frontenac and Leeds & Grenville counties, and August 15 in Brant, Brantford, Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Norfolk, Ohsweken, Oxford, Waterloo and Wellington. All baiting dates are subject to change depending on weather conditions.
Since 2015, the ministry has distributed over 7.5 million vaccine baits and tested more than 25,000 wildlife samples. This action has contained the original outbreak to within 65 kilometres of the original case and the number of positive cases has dropped by 95 per cent since 2016.
The khaki-green coloured bait is made of wax-fat and smells like marshmallow to attract animals. A label with a toll-free telephone number (1-888-574-6656) and the message “Do not eat” are printed on the bait, and a plastic package containing the liquid rabies vaccine is embedded in the centre. If found, the bait should not be touched, but left for raccoons, skunks and foxes to consume.
For more information about rabies in Ontario, please visit Ontario.ca/rabies or contact the ministry’s rabies information line at 1-888-574-6656.