The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) program will begin its annual distribution of the oral rabies vaccine RABORAL-VRG® baits in select areas in the eastern United States to prevent the spread of raccoon rabies into America’s heartland.
WS and their cooperators will begin distributing ORV baits on or about Aug. 1 across rural areas by airplane and in suburban or urban areas by helicopter or vehicle. ORV baits are coated with a fishmeal attractant and are packaged in one-inch square cubes or two-inch plastic sachets.
WS and cooperators will distribute baits in the following select areas and time periods:
In Northeast to Mid-Atlantic States during August and early-September:
- The Houlton, ME, project will cover parts of northern Maine, and distribute more than 351,000 ORV baits by airplane and vehicle;
- The Plattsburgh, NY, project will cover parts of northern New York, and distribute more than 171,000 ORV baits by airplane and vehicle;
- The Allegheny, PA, project will cover parts of Pennsylvania and distribute approximately 302,000 ORV baits by vehicle;
- The North Lima, OH, project will cover parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and distribute more than 1,007,000 ORV baits by airplane, helicopter, and vehicle;
- The Clarksburg, WV, project will cover parts of West Virginia, Ohio, and Virginia and distribute more than 932,000 ORV baits by airplane and vehicle.
In Massachusetts during September and early October:
- The Cape Cod, MA, project will cover parts of peninsular Massachusetts and distribute approximately 99,000 ORV baits by bait stations and vehicle.
In southern states, between late September and mid-October:
- The Birmingham, AL, project will cover parts of Jefferson County, Alabama and distribute approximately 25,000 baits by bait stations and vehicle;
- The Abingdon, VA, project will cover parts of Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky and distribute more than 1,200,000 ORV baits by airplane, helicopter, and vehicle;
- The Dalton, GA, project will cover parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee and distribute 880,000 ORV baits by airplane and helicopter.
The RABORAL V-RG® vaccine is safe for more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but should leave them undisturbed if they encounter them. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits may experience an upset stomach, but no long-term health risks. If adults or children come in contact with baits, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap.
Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals. Signs suggestive of rabies include unusual aggressive or calm and “friendly” behavior, an inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma and finally death. While rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, it also is preventable. Human exposures can be successfully remedied if medical attention is sought immediately after exposure.
Over the past 30 years, rabies management has grown in complexity in the United States, as wild animals, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, coyotes, and bats have replaced the domestic dog as the primary reservoir for the disease. The WS National Rabies Management Program was established in 1997 to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies in the United States. Through the program, WS works with local, state and federal governments, universities and other partners to address this public health challenge by distributing oral rabies vaccination baits in targeted areas. Through the efforts of APHIS and partners across the United States, the program has achieved three significant accomplishments – the elimination of canine rabies; the near-elimination of gray fox rabies in Texas; and stopping the spread of raccoon rabies from the Eastern United States into new areas.
For additional information concerning rabies or the ORV program, please visit www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife-damage/rabies or contact WS toll free at 1-866-4USDAWS (1-866-487-3297).