December 27, 2007
The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) will begin field operations for its annual Oral Rabies Vaccination Program (ORVP) bait drop Jan. 6 from the Zapata County Airport. The second portion of the drop begins about Jan. 11 from both Junction’s Kimble County Airport and Fort Stockton-Pecos County Airport.
For several weeks in January, about 3.3 million baits filled with rabies vaccine will drop from five specially-equipped airplanes flying across 44 South and West-Central Texas counties.
“The goal of the 12-year-old program is to create zones of vaccinated coyotes and gray foxes to first contain the spread of rabies virus, then eliminate canine and gray fox rabies in the area,” said DSHS veterinarian Ernest Oertli, ORVP director. “No human cases of rabies in either area have occurred since the vaccine airdrop began.”
The number of canine rabies cases in South Texas has declined from a high of 142 cases when the program began in 1995 to none in 2002 and 2003, 1 reported in 2004, and none in 2005, 2006 and through November 2007. Gray fox cases are down overall from an all-time high of 265 cases in 1994 to 61 in 2007 through November. The fewest number of cases, eight, was reported in 2005.
The specialized bait of fish meal was designed for coyotes, and a dog-food bait containing molasses and vanilla flavoring was designed for gray foxes. Each bait contains 2 milliliters of oral rabies vaccine. “The vaccine inside the bait cannot cause rabies in people or animals,” Oertli said.
Because baits contain a biological agent and are less likely to be eaten by wildlife if people touch them, they should not be handled. Each brown bait, which measures 1¼ by 1¼ by ¾ inches, is marked with a DSHS toll free number, 1-877-722-6725, that people may call for information.
“People still need to get their pets vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian as required by law,” Oertli said. He added that a domestic animal’s rabies vaccination can be safely given even if the animal recently ate an oral rabies vaccine bait.
(News Media: For more information contact Emily Palmer, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, at 512-458-7400.)
Note to Editors:
- Counties in the 2008 South Texas vaccine distribution area are:
Cameron, Dimmit, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, La Salle, Maverick, Starr, Webb, Willacy, Zapata and Zavala.
- Counties in the 2008 West-Central Texas vaccine distribution area are:
Brewster, Coleman, Concho, Crane, Crockett, Ector, Edwards, Gillespie, Irion, Kerr, Kimble, Kinney, Llano, Loving, Mason, Maverick, McCulloch, Menard, Midland, Pecos, Reagan, Real, Reeves, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Sutton, Terrell, Tom Green, Upton, Uvalde, Val Verde, Ward, Winkler and Zavala.
(Maverick and Zavala counties are included in both distribution areas.)