ABINGDON, Virginia – Rabies vaccine bait drops that will include rural southwestern Virginia in October were announced on Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Health Inspectorate animal and plant, wildlife services.
The USDA, in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, will begin distributing oral rabies vaccine (ORV) bait for wildlife this month in parts of southwest Virginia. , western North Carolina and surrounding states. The smell of ORV bait attracts target wildlife, such as raccoons, which eat the baits and are then vaccinated against rabies.
More than three million baits will be distributed by fixed-wing aircraft to an area including Bland, Tazewell, Wythe, Russell, Washington, Smyth and Grayson counties in southwest Virginia, as well as western Virginia. North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, northern Georgia, and northeastern Alabama.
The ORV bait distribution program is part of the management activities aimed at preventing the westward movement of the rabies virus most commonly spread by raccoons. ORV baits are distributed using fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters or from ground vehicles. The project is based on two airports and will run for most of October.
From approximately October 5 to 18, ORV bait distribution by fixed-wing aircraft will be based in Abingdon, Va. And Dalton, GA. The baiting should be completed by mid-October, depending on weather and other factors.
Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system of mammals and is a serious public health problem. If exposures to the virus are left untreated, they are almost always fatal. The costs associated with the detection, prevention and control of rabies exceed $ 600 million per year in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the United States involve wildlife. People are urged not to come into contact with or feed wild animals and to keep their pets’ rabies vaccinations up to date.
The vaccine baits have been shown to be safe for many species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats, USDA officials said. Humans and pets cannot contract rabies from contact with baits, but are advised to leave them alone if they encounter them. In case of contact with baits, immediately rinse the contact area with lukewarm water and soap.
“It’s definitely important that pet owners are generally aware of the program,” said Jordona Kirby, Rabies Field Coordinator. “If citizens find the bait in areas where their pets or children might encounter them, it would be best to move them to a wooded area where wildlife could reach them. I would recommend using a garden glove or a paper towel to avoid getting the bait on a person’s hand.
Precautions are taken to avoid dropping bait near dwellings, but it is still possible for people and pets to come in contact with them.
“If their dog comes into contact with an animal, it is best not to try to pull it out of its mouth because the animal owner could be bitten by their own dog,” Kirby said. “If they eat one, the most likely reaction is an upset stomach.”
If a dog has consumed bait and the owner is concerned or the dog is acting differently, see a vet, she said.
ORV baits have been distributed in North Carolina since 2005 as part of a larger effort by Wildlife Services, National Rabies Management Program to prevent the westward spread of raccoon rabies by creating a barrier along the Appalachian Mountains. , from the Canadian border to Alabama.
For more information on the National Rabies Management Program, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/programs/nrmp.