Oral rabies vaccine baits are being distributed around Flagstaff, Ariz., to reduce the incidence of rabies in gray fox, said Wildlife Services, a program within the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The distribution was scheduled to begin July 21.
In cooperation with the Coconino County Health Department, 130,000 oral rabies vaccination baits targeting gray fox will be distributed over a 1,400 square mile area. Personnel from Wildlife Services, the Arizona Department of Health Services, and the Coconino County Health Department will be hand baiting populated areas by vehicle. An airplane will be used to distribute baits over rural areas. Read more about this program
This is the first year Wildlife Services is distributing oral rabies vaccination baits in Arizona. The goal is to vaccinate gray fox in the area so they do not continue to spread the deadly virus. In late 2008, bat rabies variant appeared in 20 gray foxes, six striped skunks, and one ringtail. Since oral rabies vaccine has been shown to be effective in reducing the prevalence of rabies in gray fox in Texas, it will be used as the primary method to control this most recent outbreak in Arizona.
The baits contain rabies vaccine in two-inch plastic sachets coated with a fishmeal attractant. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but the public is asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits might experience an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks.
For additional information concerning the oral rabies vaccine program, visit aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/rabies.shtml or contact Wildlife Services toll free at 866/487-3297.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.