Rabies vaccine packets to be dropped by air in Tennessee border counties in October


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Rabies vaccine packets will be dropped by airplane and helicopter in 18 Tennessee border counties in October.

The fishmeal-coated packets are intended to prevent the distribution of rabies in wild raccoons and will be dropped starting October 3 as part of an annual program by the USDA.

The packets will be distributed in Bledsoe, Bradley, Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hamilton, Hawkins, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, Sequatchie, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties.

They will be distributed on the following schedule:

Helicopter distribution (urban areas)
• October 3 – 7: Hamilton and Bradley counties
• October 9 – 13: Greene, Hawkins, Sullivan, Carter, Unicoi, and Washington counties

Airplane distribution (rural areas)
• October 9 –13: Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties
• October 14 –20: Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie counties

The Tennessee Department of Health says that while the packets are considered safe, the USDA has issued these precautions:

  • If you or your pet finds a vaccine bait package, 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.
  • Do not 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.

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