Rabies Vaccine for Raccoons

Rabies Vaccine for Raccoons

The title is not a typo.

For generations we’ve known that rabies can be spread through wild animals. Old Yeller did a great job helping many people understand the destructive nature of this disease. In that story, a wolf infects the family’s cow and then later their beloved dog. Spoiler alert: the family had to shoot the dog to stop the infection from spreading to other animals and other people.

We’ve moved on a long way from the era where killing the family pet was the only option. Dogs are routinely vaccinated for rabies as part of their condition for licensing and cross border travel. Now, we’re taking all of that a step further. Instead of vaccinating at the point where the virus gets in the house we’re vaccinating the animals in the wild.

Protecting America’s heartland from a deadly, preventable disease is the goal of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program currently underway in the country’s northeast region.

The department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has begun its annual distribution of oral rabies vaccine (ORV) bait in select areas in the eastern U.S. to mitigate the spread of the virus in wildlife populations.

The bait, which is covered in a fishmeal-based coating to encourage consumption by raccoons, coyotes, and other animals, is distributed by plane in rural areas and via helicopter, vehicle, and bait station in suburban or urban spaces. Packaged in two-inch plastic sachets or one-inch square cubes, the pieces contain proprietary ORV bait from Boehringer Ingelheim.

While almost always fatal once symptoms appear, rabies also is 100 percent preventable. Further, approximately 90 percent of reported cases of the virus in the U.S. are in wildlife, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Way to go Humans!