Beginning next week, baits containing rabies vaccine will be spread throughout the Upper Cape and the town of Barnstable.

The Cape Cod and Southeast Massachusetts Rabies Task Force will distribute about 19,500 oral rabies vaccination baits from the Cape Cod Canal through Routes 151 in Falmouth, 28 in Mashpee, and 149 in Barnstable. The goal is to boost wildlife vaccination rates and prevent the reemergence of raccoon rabies throughout the region. Portions of Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, Mashpee, and Barnstable will receive baits.

The program begins on Monday, May 18, and runs through June 9.

The vaccine is contained in baits that have a strong fish smell specifically attractive to raccoons, said Brian M. Bjorklund, the Cape Cod Rabies Program Coordinator. Once consumed, the raccoons are then vaccinated against the disease.

The baits are tossed from cars along roadsides in wooded, brush-covered, and wetland areas where raccoons are likely to find and eat them.

People and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, Mr. Bjorklund said in a statement. He asks for people to leave the baits alone and if a person comes in contact with one, to rinse the area with warm water and soap. If there has been exposure to the vaccine inside the bait, he asks that people contact the Massachusetts Department of Health at 617-983-6800, or call him at 508-476-2956.

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