USDA distributes raccoon rabies vaccine in Tri-Cities region

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) – The Tennessee Department of Health is working with the United States Department of Agriculture to prevent rabies in our region by distributing oral rabies vaccine for wild raccoons along Tennessee’s borders of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

The baiting program begins September 25 in those areas.

The vaccine packets are coated with fishmeal and will be distributed locally in Carter, Greene, Hamblen, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties. The baits will be distributed by airplane or helicopter.

Although the vaccine products are safe, the USDA Wildlife Services program has issued these precautions:

  • If you or your pet finds bait, confine your pet and look for other baits in the area. Wear gloves or use a towel and toss baits into a wooded or fencerow area. These baits should be removed from where your pet could easily eat them. Eating the baits won’t harm your pet, but consuming several baits might upset your pet’s stomach.
  • Don’t try to remove an oral rabies vaccine packet from your pet’s mouth, as you could be bitten.
  • Wear gloves or use a towel when you pick up bait. While there is no harm in touching undamaged baits, they have a strong fishmeal smell.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if there is any chance the vaccine packet has been ruptured.
  • Instruct children to leave baits alone.

A warning label on each bait advises people not to touch the bait, and contains the rabies information line telephone number.

For more information on rabies prevention or the oral rabies vaccine program, call the USDA Wildlife Services toll-free rabies line at 1-866-487-3297 or the Tennessee Department of Health at 1-615-741-7247. You may also find rabies information on the TDH website at http://tn.gov/health/article/rabies.

 

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