Texas Fights Rabies With Vaccine Air Drops

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To try to eliminate the skunk strain of rabies in the state, the Texas Department of State Health Services is using the same method that worked successfully for 20 years with rabies strains in coyotes and foxes.

Bats are guilty of carrying a rabies strain that has no vaccine and causes a large number of rabid animal cases in the state of Texas. The only strain more widespread comes from the skunk. To try to eliminate this skunk strain, the Texas Department of State Health Services is using the same method that worked successfully for 20 years with rabies strains in coyotes and foxes.

Twin-engine airplanes are dropping packets containing the rabies vaccine from skies across the rural areas of 17 counties in central and eastern Texas. Looking like condiment packets from fast food restaurants, the plastic vaccine packets are covered in fish meal to encourage skunks to eat them, but also have written warnings for humans.

The state did successfully conduct some small-scale pilot tests with the skunk strain in Fort Bend County during 2012 and Waller County during 2013.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says 60 species of animals, including cats and dogs, can safely ingest this oral vaccine, and humans should be safe if they accidentally touch the packets.

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