Public Safety

Annual Rabies Bait Drop
Eighteen of the 31 animals that have tested positive for rabies so far this year have been in the state’s most populated region, Chittenden County. The 18th Annual Rabies Bait Drop will take place (weather permitting) Aug. 11-18, targeting eight Vermont counties, including all of Chittenden County, to help stop the spread of the potentially fatal viral disease.
Baits will be dropped into rural parts of Vermont, primarily across the northern region along the Canadian border, from low-flying planes for two days. Hand placed baits will be distributed in urban areas as part of a nationally coordinated effort led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services (USDA).
One reason so many cases are being detected in Chittenden County, said State Public Health Veterinarian Robert Johnson, is that police in Burlington and South Burlington are doing a good job of capturing animals that are acting strangely and making sure they are tested.
“The USDA may increase the dose of vaccine in the baits this year due to the number of cases in densely populated areas,” Johnson said.
The Health Department expects no adverse health effects for people (including children) or pets that may come into contact with the baits and vaccine. The bait cannot cause rabies, but people should keep their dogs on a leash during the bait drop period.
Anyone who finds the bait should leave it untouched, unless it is discovered on a lawn or driveway. Remove the bait with a glove and wash your hands with soap and water.
The sweet-scented baits are slightly larger than a quarter and come in blister packs covered by a dark green waxy coating.
Rabies is a fatal viral disease found mainly in raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks that can infect domestic animals and people, as well. The virus can spread through the bite, or contact with saliva, from an infected animal. Rabies vaccine – if given soon after a human is bitten by a rabid animal – is highly effective. Once the signs and symptoms of rabies start to appear, there is no treatment and the disease is almost always fatal.
Avoid any animal that shows strange behavior. Do not try to trap or capture the animal, but instead call the state’s Rabies Hotline at 1-800-472-2437 (1-800-4-RABIES), or in-state 802-223-8697.
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First Detection of West Nile Virus in Vermont
The Vermont Department of Health has announced that mosquitoes in St. Albans City have tested positive for West Nile virus. The mosquitoes collected from a pool on July 29 were Culex species – the primary species responsible for spreading West Nile virus. Late summer is when the risk of human cases is highest.
“The first detection this summer is a reminder that West Nile virus is around – and Eastern Equine Encephalitis probably is too – and people should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” said Patsy Kelso, state epidemiologist for infectious disease.
Twenty-eight of 1,328 mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile virus in 2013. The Health Department confirmed one human case of a West Nile virus infection last year in a Lamoille County resident, who recovered.
Symptoms of West Nile virus are often mild, but can include high fever. Approximately 1 percent of people who are infected develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis, which can be fatal.
The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
Wear long sleeves and pants and avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are active.
Reduce mosquito breeding habitats by getting rid of standing water, and by draining areas where water can pool such as rain gutters, wading pools and old tires.
Use repellents containing no more than 30 percent DEET for adults and no more than 10 percent for children age 3 and older.
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.

911 outage caused by equipment failure
The statewide emergency 911 system in Vermont experienced a 40 minute outage on Aug. 6. During that period, callers seeking emergency assistance in Vermont were not able to reach the 911 call centers. The system failure was corrected and the system has been fully operational since the outage was resolved around 1 p.m.
The 911 system in Vermont is a fully hosted system provided by Intrado, based in Longmont, Colorado. In a statement from Intrado regarding the reason for outage, Intrado Senior Vice President Steve Lowe said, “Intrado goes to great lengths to design networks with multiple layers of redundancy. On August 6, 2014 we experienced a double equipment failure in our network. During system restoration, we discovered another error that caused the network to be temporarily unavailable.”