Date: February 15, 2005 "For Immediate Release"
To: News Media
From: Sheriff Grady Judd
Media Contact:

Carrie Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 981-2374 Pager

PCSO Hosts News conference and Awareness of Oral Rabies Vaccine Program

The Florida Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) program, which began operating here in 2003 but has been in operation nationwide since 1990, will kick off with a news conference scheduled for 12:00 noon on Wednesday, February 23, 2005, at the Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) Building 420, Bartow Municipal Airport.

Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) has been under field investigation in the United States since 1990, in Canada since 1985, and in Europe since 1980. Currently, there are 15 states distributing oral vaccines for raccoons in the U.S., while Texas distributes baits for gray fox and coyote. There have been nearly 48 million doses of Raboral V-RGŪ distributed in the U.S. and Canada, and 63 million doses have been dispersed worldwide. Raboral V-RGŪ is currently the only effective oral vaccine licensed for use in free-ranging raccoons, gray foxes, and coyotes in the United States.

The goal of this program, which begins February 23rd, is to expand on the success of the Pinellas county program, with the objective of completing the "barrier of protection" along the I-4 corridor. Baits will be applied to the existing 7 counties and newly-joined 5 counties. The barrier created will be 40 miles wide and 150 miles long, from Tampa-St. Petersburg to Daytona Beach. The program is funded mainly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services, who will be represented at the news conference, along with other partnering agencies such as PCSO and the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Baits with the ORV are distributed by airplanes in rural areas and by hand in urban and suburban areas. Airplanes fly in straight lines or “transects” at about 500 feet above ground while distributing baits. The bait distribution machine is controlled from the airplane and is turned off when crossing a road or house to avoid human contact with the bait. Baiting by hand is done in urban and suburban areas to get the best chance to vaccinate an animal while decreasing human contact with baits. In 2003, more than 10 million baits were distributed in the U.S. and Canada.

Media representatives are encouraged to attend this event. Arriving before noon will ensure video opportunities of the baits being loaded onto the aircraft, and interviews with agency representatives will be made available.

Media contact: Carrie Rodgers, 863-534-6217.

For more information on the ORV program, contact local planner Gary Painter, 863-519-8470, or visit website http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

Distribution: Chief of Staff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media

A text only version of this release is also available.

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