March 19, 2007
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will begin a supplement to the annual Oral Rabies Vaccination Program (ORVP) Wednesday. The airdrop of baits containing an oral rabies vaccine will cover all or parts of Crane, Ector, Loving, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Upton, Ward and Winkler counties and is expected to take three to four days.
About 114,000 dog-food baits and 190,000 fish-meal baits will be dropped from two white King Air aircraft leaving from Pecos County Airport in Fort Stockton and flying at about 500 feet. The baits are used to immunize gray foxes against rabies and reduce the threat of the deadly disease to domestic animals and humans.
“In the past two months cases of the gray fox variant of rabies have been diagnosed in wildlife in several West Texas counties,” said DSHS veterinarian Ernest Oertli, ORVP director. “This variant has not been detected in these areas in the last several years.”
The special brown baits, measuring 1¼ by 1¼ by ¾ inches, contain 2 milliliters of oral rabies vaccine. Each bait is marked with a DSHS toll-free number, (877) 722-6725, that people may call for information.
“The vaccine inside the bait cannot cause rabies in people or animals, but we do ask that people not handle the baits. They are less likely to be eaten by wildlife if people touch them,” Oertli said.
“People also need to get their pets vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian as required by law,” Oertli said. A domestic animal’s rabies vaccination can be safely given even if the animal recently ate an oral rabies vaccine bait.
The annual ORVP bait drop, which began in 1995, is done in South and West Central Texas in January.
(News Media: For more information, contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, Austin, 512-458-7400.)