The ORV bait distribution program is part of management activities to prevent the westward spread of the rabies virus most often spread by raccoons. ORV baits are distributed using fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters or from ground vehicles. The vaccine baits have been proven safe in many species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them. If contact with baits occurs, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap. For photos of the vaccination baits, please visit this Photo Gallery.
The project is based out Abingdon, Virginia and will take place from approximately October 6 – October 14 and cover parts of Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Giles, Grayson, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe counties in southwest Virginia as well as areas in northeast Tennessee, eastern Kentucky and western North Carolina. More than 1 million baits will be distributed by fixed wing aircraft in rural areas and approximately 126,000 baits will be dispersed by helicopter in urban and suburban areas such as the cities of Bristol and Abingdon, Virginia.
Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals and represents a serious public health concern. If exposures to the virus are not treated it is almost always fatal. Costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies exceed $600 million annually in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the U.S. are in wildlife. People are urged not to make contact with or feed wildlife and to keep their pets’ rabies vaccinations current.
As part of the Wildlife Services, National Rabies Management Program, ORV baits have been distributed in Virginia since 2002, as part of a larger effort to prevent the westward spread of raccoon rabies by creating a barrier along the Appalachian Mountains from the Canadian border to Alabama.
For more information about the National Rabies Management Program, visit www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/programs/nrmp.