December 30, 2009
The Texas Department of State Health Services´ annual airdrop of vaccine baits – credited with reducing the spread of rabies strains carried by coyotes and gray foxes – is scheduled to begin Jan. 6. Some 2.9 million baits will be dropped over 42 counties in South and West-Central Texas.
"This innovative program is helping prevent the spread of rabies to other animals and humans," said Ernest Oertli, director of the DSHS Oral Rabies Vaccination Program. "Our goal is to eliminate canine and gray fox rabies in Texas"
Five specially equipped airplanes are scheduled to take off from four airports:
- Jan. 6, Zapata County Airport near Zapata and Kimble County Airport in Junction;
- Jan. 12 (approximately), Pecos Municipal Airport; and
- Jan. 19 (approximately), Del Rio International Airport.
The number of reported animal cases of canine rabies in South Texas has declined from a high of 122 cases in 1994 – the year before the first vaccine airdrop in South Texas – to zero in 2000. Only two animal cases of canine rabies have been reported since. In West-Central Texas, gray fox cases are down overall from a high of 244 cases in 1995 to two cases through November 2009.
The baits this year are primarily opaque sachets coated with fish meal crumbles. Two milliliters of oral rabies vaccine are encased in each bait.
The vaccine cannot cause rabies in people or animals, but people shouldn’t handle the baits because that makes the baits less likely to be eaten by wildlife. The brown baits, which are about 2 inches in size and weigh about 4 grams, are marked with a toll-free DSHS number – 1-877-722-6725 – that people can call for information.
Pet owners should continue to get their pets vaccinated against rabies as required by law. A domestic animal´s rabies vaccination can be safely given even if the animal recently ate an oral rabies vaccine bait.
(News Media Contact: Allison Lowery, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7400.)
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