CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Helicopters and other aircraft will start dropping rabies vaccine packets for wildlife along Tennessee’s borders with several states, including those shared with North Carolina and Virginia.

A release from the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) states the U.S. Department of Agriculture will also assist in the air drops starting Oct. 3.

“Rabies control keeps people, pets, and livestock safe,” State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD said in the release. “Our partnership with USDA Wildlife Services in this project reduces rabies in wildlife and protects communities.”

The oral rabies vaccine packets contain bait to entice wild animals and have a strong fish-like smell to them. Low-flying aircraft and helicopters will distribute the packets along the border counties over the span of three weeks.

In Northeast Tennessee, helicopters will distribute packets in more urban areas of Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties from Oct. 10-12.

Aircraft will distribute the packets in more rural areas in Carter, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties from Oct. 9-14.

The TDH reports a toll-free number is marked on each rabies vaccine packet for anyone who might find or touch one. The packets are safe, officials report, but the Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services asks anyone who finds one to remove them from areas where pets could find and eat them. Gloves should be worn when removing the packets from an area, and children should be instructed to leave them alone if found.

A single packet will not harm pets if eaten, but the TDH said a pet who eats multiple may have an upset stomach.

Packets will also be distributed in counties bordering Alabama and Georgia.