The United States began a rabies vaccination program for wildlife by airdropping vaccines covered in the treatment in 13 states

At that time of year again. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has begun its annual oral rabies vaccine distribution program, which will run through October. The US Department of Agriculture said the program is focused on preventing raccoons from spreading the deadly virus strain to countries where it has not been found or has not been widely spread.

Image credit: USDA.

Oral rabies vaccines are coated with fishmeal attractant and packaged in 2-inch plastic bags or 1-inch cubes. Also tested by the USDA vaccine It was recently approved in Canada specifically for the vaccination of skunks and raccoons. The Wildlife Service hopes the vaccine will be approved sometime next year.

Distribution began earlier this month, with millions of oral rabies vaccine packages scattered from planes and helicopters in 13 states from Alabama to Maine. In rural areas, the USDA distributes the vaccine by plane, while in suburban and urban areas they will arrive by helicopter or vehicle or be deposited at certain bait stations.

The first phase of the program focuses on West Virginia and Maine. Approximately 350,000 vaccines are distributed in northern Maine and 535,000 in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and a small part of southwestern Virginia. Then from September to October, 70,000 vaccines will be distributed in key areas of the Massachusetts Peninsula.

Finally, southern states will receive rabies vaccinations in October. Parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina will have more than 880,000 vaccines; Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama will receive about 820,000 vaccines. The oral vaccine, called RABORAL V-RG, has been found to be safe in more than 60 animal species.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with baits, but they should be left undisturbed if they are encountered. Dogs who consume large numbers of bait may suffer from an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks. “If adults or children come into contact with grafts, rinse the contact area immediately,” the USDA said in a statement.

Rabies Challenges

Rabies is a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals, usually spread through the bite of an infected animal. If left untreated, it is almost always fatal. more than 90% of rabies cases reported in the United States are in the wild. As populations grow in suburban and rural areas, there is greater interaction with wildlife, increasing the risk of exposure to rabies.

While all mammals can be infected with rabies, distinct strains exist among foxes, skunks, bats, raccoons, and mongooses. Globally, the virus kills 60,000 people annually, mainly by dog ​​bites, according to the World Health Organization. The CDC said that’s the same number that gets a rabies prevention shot in the United States after being bitten or scratched by an animal.

Rabies control program started in 1997 in TexasCoyotes were spreading the canine type of virus. Three years later, the CDC declared the United States free of rabies in dogs thanks to vaccine drops. However, this does not mean that unvaccinated pets are safe. A bite from an infected animal of any kind can infect any other mammal.

raccoon It is currently the main reservoir for rabies in 18 states along and near the East Coast and skunks in 21 other countries, based on data for 2020, the most recent year available. Bates made up 31% of the approximately 45,000 animals found to have rabies in 2020. The scientists speculated that bats would be inoculated during hibernation using a gel that could be transferred from bats to bats.

In all, about 3.75 million fishmeal-coated packages will be distributed in nine states, ending when 1.1 million drops in Alabama in October.

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