USDA Tests Oral Wildlife Rabies Vaccine by Dropping it from Airplanes

| by Phyllis M Daugherty
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will be dropping marshmallow-flavored plastic packets of rabies vaccine out of airplanes over northern New York and parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, Ohio, and West Virginia.

This work is part of a third U.S. field trial of a vaccine to control rabies in raccoons, skunks and other wildlife and hopefully to eventually eliminate rabies in land-dwelling wildlife in the United States.

The oral rabies vaccination baits are coated with a fishmeal attractant. he plastic blister packs being distributed this month by airplane drop and by people on the ground are olive green rectangular packets are a little bigger than a quarter.

The baits will be distributed in the following select areas and time periods: In Northeast to Mid-Atlantic States, between August 12 and mid-September: In southern states, between October 1 and mid-October: In Massachusetts during October.

Biologists are evaluating the safety and immune effects of the vaccine. So far, they've found it effective in raccoons, coyotes and foxes, but it hasn't proven effective in combating rabies in skunks.

The Raboral V-RG® vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits may experience an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them.

Sources: Bradenton, USDA