Rabies vaccine drops to begin in Southwest Virginia on Wednesday


A RABORAL-VRG fishmeal-coated sachet (left) and fishmeal-polymer (right) oral rabies vaccination (ORV) baits, with a quarter for perspective. The RABORAL-VRG sachet – or plastic packet – contains the rabies vaccine. To make the baits appetizing to animals, the sachets containing vaccine are sprinkled with fishmeal coating, and/or encased inside the hard fishmeal-polymer blocks. Bait photo by John Forbes, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services.

ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – Federal officials will begin dropping rabies vaccines from low-flying aircraft in parts of Southwest Virginia starting Wednesday.

Oral vaccine packets coated in fishmeal are designed to target certain wildlife species.

More than 700,000 packets will be distributed in parts of Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Giles, Grayson, Scott, Smyth, Russell, Washington, Wise, Wythe, and Tazewell counties and the cities of Bristol and Abingdon.

Residents in those areas may notice low-flying aircraft.

The blister pack, containing the ONRAB® vaccine, is made attractive to wildlife by a sweet coating that includes vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye. The vaccine has been successfully used in Canada to vaccinate raccoons, skunks and foxes against rabies. Field crews distribute the ORV baits by plane or on the ground by hand. Photo by Jordona Kirby, USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services.

The USDA says humans and pets cannot get rabies from the vaccine packets, however, contact should be avoided.

If contact with an ORV bait occurs, immediately rinse the area with warm water and soap. If there has been exposure to the vaccine inside the bait, please contact the Virginia Department of Health at 1-877-722-6725.

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

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