In an attempt to vaccinate as many raccoons as possible in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is blazing a new trail – a trail that you’ll need an aircraft to reach.
Every year, from early August until the end of October, the USDA distributes oral vaccines to wildlife to help prevent the spread of rabies. The project focuses on vaccine distribution throughout the eastern United States and the Heartland. The oral vaccine route has been a very successful way of keeping rabies infections low.
But this year, they’re pulling out all the stops. This year’s program features airplanes and helicopters to efficiently keep animal populations and humans safe from the disease. The airplane method is reserved for rural areas, while suburban and urban areas will use a combination of vehicles, helicopters, and bait stations.
The vaccination endeavor is typically targeted at raccoon populations, especially babies who haven’t been vaccinated yet. Rabies is also common in many other wild animals, including bats, skunks, and foxes.
Luckily, the vaccine pellets are disguised as delicacies to critters. Much like the pill-in-peanut-butter approach many are familiar with to get a dog to take their medication, the USDA covers the vaccines in fishmeal.
The vaccine, named RABORAL V-RG, is safe for the majority of native U.S. animals, including domestic cats and dogs. So there’s little to fear if your pet happens to snack on one here or there. Although animals eating too many vaccine pellets could develop stomach issues, these are temporary.
The annual vaccine distribution is instrumental in preventing local populations from suffering a rabies infection. Humans usually contract the disease when they’re bitten by a rabid animal. It is a very serious condition that is virtually 100% fatal. The initial symptoms mimic the flu, with some discomfort or itching at the site of the bite. As the disease progresses, symptoms like cerebral dysfunction, confusion, abnormal behavior, hallucinations, and insomnia start to set in.
When the clinical signs of the disease appear, there’s not much left to be done, which is why vaccinating animal populations is vital. So it’s a good thing there’s such an ingenious – and delicious – way to ensure that your local critters are getting their necessary doses!
Passport Health offers rabies vaccination at all locations to help keep you protected. Call 937-306-7541 or book online to schedule your appointment today.
Written for Passport Health by CJ Darnieder. CJ is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago. He is an avid lover of classical music and stand-up comedy and loves to write both in his spare time.