January 19, 2024
Oral rabies vaccine distribution set in Baldwin and Mobile counties
MOBILE, Ala. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Program has announced that it will be distributing oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits in Alabama next week. The distribution should last about seven days.
Baits will be distributed by vehicles in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, and from low-flying airplanes and helicopters throughout a vaccination area that includes most of the coastal peninsula, the northeastern section of Mobile County adjacent to U.S. 43, and parts of the following cities: Spanish Fort, Fairhope, Daphne, and Foley. This will be across a 1,599 square-mile bait zone.
ORV baits have been distributed in Alabama since 2003 in partnership with state and local public health agencies as part of the USDA’s National Rabies Management Program. This effort seeks to prevent the westward movement of the rabies virus most often spread by raccoons by creating a barrier along the Appalachian Mountains from the Canadian border to Alabama.
Targeted wildlife species eat the vaccine baits and become vaccinated for rabies. More than 218,000 baits will be distributed in southern Alabama. The vaccine distribution campaign in Alabama will use an ORV bait called RABORAL V-RG. The vaccine is contained in ketchup-sized packets coated in fishmeal. The odor attracts targeted wild animals, such as raccoons, who eat the baits and are then vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine baits have been proven safe in more than 60 species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.
Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the vaccine baits. However, if you or your pet find one, please leave it undisturbed. If a person has contact with the bait, immediately rinse the area with warm water and soap. If there has been exposure to the vaccine inside the bait, please contact the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) at 877-722-6725.
Do not attempt to remove bait from an animal’s mouth, as you could be bitten. Ingesting the bait will not harm your pet. If your pet has eaten several baits, the pet may experience vomiting or diarrhea that is self-limiting.
State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Dee W. Jones said, “This is a federal program, and the main role of the Alabama Department of Public Health is to help with accidental exposures to the vaccine packet. The packets are safe, and the program is very beneficial from a short-term strategy of reducing exposure to rabies as well as long-term strategy of hopefully eradicating rabies in raccoons.”
For more information about the federal ORV usage in Alabama, please contact the USDA at 866-4USDA-WS. For more information about rabies exposures, animal or human exposures to the ORV, please call ADPH at 334-206-5969.