USDA Begins 2022 Oral Rabies Vaccine Efforts in Eastern U.S., Including Alabama

As of this month the USDA has begun scattering millions of packets of oral rabies vaccines from helicopters and planes in over 13 states, including Alabama, where there have been several cases in the Prattville area.

Rabid animals have been found several times in the past year in Prattville and other parts of Autauga County:

Rabid cat found in Prattville – July 2021
Rabid cat bites person in Prattville – November 2021
Rabid fox attacks person, pets near Prattville – April 2022
Rabid dog bites person in Autauga County – May 2022
Rabid fox bites Prattville resident – July 2022

Raccoons are the main rabies carriers in 18 states along the east coast. The plan is to try and cut down the rate of infection, and although canine rabies rates are extremely low, house hold pets can still be affected.

“If you look at the incidents of rabies in the state of Alabama raccoons are the reservoir, so raccoons then pose the risk to not only other wild life species but also to the dogs and to the cats.”

RABORAL V-RG is the name of the vaccine the US has started distributing via helicopter, airplanes, vehicles and special bate stations.. the vaccines are coated with a fishmeal attractant to be appetizing to the raccoons and other wild life.

“Still talking about introducing a vaccine through a bate, so the bate you have to attract the wild animal in this case its the raccoon. you put something on it to make it very tasty to the raccoon and then the raccoon actually eats it.”

While its easy to vaccinate cats and dogs, officials say it is more complicated tracking down and vaccinating wild life. That is why the USDA is using this method of dropping oral vaccines from the air into these states to help raccoons build up the antibodies to slow the spread of the virus.

“First and foremost is vaccinate your animals because that in fact does protect them from animals that have rabies. things like picking up your trash not leaving out any extra pet food those are the type of things you can do to kind of cut down incidents. if you see wildlife in the day, stay away from it the best that you can. don’t feed it, try not, don’t re-habit it.”

According to officials with the USDA they will begin dropping vaccines in parts of Alabama starting on October 1st.

ADPH recommends these tips for avoiding contact with animals infected with rabies:

In addition to vaccination, area residents are advised to take the following precautions to avoid possible exposure to rabies:
·        Do not allow pets to run loose; confine them within a fenced-in area or with a leash.
·        Do not leave uneaten pet food or scraps near your residence.
·        Do not illegally feed or keep wildlife as pets.
·        Do not go near wildlife or domestic animals that are acting in a strange or unusual manner.
·        Caution children not to go near any stray or wild animal, regardless of its behavior.

For more information about rabies and prevention, please contact ADPH at (334) 206-5969 or visit https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/infectiousdiseases/rabies.html

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