Rabies vaccine packets to be airdropped

Published 12:06 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

BY ROBERT SORRELL
Officials in Tennessee plan to airdrop rabies vaccine packets in Carter County and surrounding areas this month.
The Tennessee Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will airdrop the packets beginning Oct. 9.
“Rabies control keeps people, pets, and livestock safe,” Tennessee State Epidemiologist John Dunn said in a news release. “Our partnership with USDA Wildlife Services in this project reduces rabies in wildlife and protects communities.”
Rabies, a fatal but preventable viral disease, can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be found in bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.
Wildlife Services helicopters will drop packs from Oct. 10-12 in urban areas of Greene, Hawkins, Sullivan, Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties, the news release states. Airplanes will distribute the packets Oct. 9-14 in rural areas of Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.
About 75 baits will be distributed per square kilometer in rural areas, and up to 150 per square kilometer in urban areas, according to Wildlife Services.
Since 1995, Wildlife Services has worked with local, state and federal governments, as well as universities and other partners to distribute the packs. The program targets the raccoon variant of rabies in the eastern U.S.
The goal of the National Rabies Management Program is to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies and eventually eliminate terrestrial rabies in the U.S.
Each bait packet is marked with a toll-free number for assistance or information if someone finds or touches a bait packet.
Although the vaccine and the bait packets are safe, Wildlife Services has issued these precautions for people and pets:
* Remove bait packets from where your pet could easily find and eat them.
* If you find a bait packet, confine your pets and look for other baits in the area. Wear gloves or use a towel to toss the bait packet into a wooded or fencerow area.
* Do not try to remove a bait packet from your pet’s mouth, as you could be bitten.
* If eaten, one bait packet won’t harm your pet, but consuming several might upset your pet’s stomach.
* Bait packets have a strong, fish-like smell. There is no harm in touching undamaged bait packets; however, always wear gloves or use a towel whenever you pick up a bait packet.
* Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if the bait packet has ruptured.
* Instruct children to leave bait packets alone.
For more information on rabies prevention or the oral rabies vaccine program, call the USDA Wildlife Services toll-free rabies line at 1-866-487-3297 or call TDH at 1-615-741-7247. Rabies information is also available on the USDA website and on TDH’s website.

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