Beginning Wednesday, May 15, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with help from local agencies will begin a week-long rabies vaccine drop in southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky.
The bait drops will be in Lee, Scott and Wise counties in Virginia and Letcher and Harlan counties in Kentucky. Residents of these areas may see low-flying planes and helicopters dropping the vaccine baits.
Humans and their pets cannot get rabies from contact with the vaccine baits. If you or a pet find one, please leave it alone. If you or your pet come in contact with the bait, immediately rinse the area with warm water and soap.
Wildlife and health officials are also asking residents to report any dead raccoons or live raccoons acting unusually ill, friendly, unafraid or sick to your local health department or animal control.
In the Spring of 2017, two raccoons in Wise County were confirmed rabid. These were the first confirmed cases of raccoon rabies in Wise County and the farthest west that raccoon rabies has been confirmed in Virginia.
Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals. While rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, it also is preventable. Human exposures can be successfully remedied if medical attention is sought immediately following exposure.