BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Oral rabies vaccine for raccoons will be passed out in 17 Alabama counties this fall.
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is cooperating with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to vaccinate raccoons against rabies using oral rabies vaccine (ORV).
This is part of a program that began in 1997. Alabama is part of a 15-state vaccination zone intended to stop the eastern raccoon rabies variant from spreading westward and northward.
Beginning on October 1, 2020, rabies vaccine will be dropped in parts of the following counties: Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Jefferson, Marshall, Morgan, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega and Tuscaloosa.
In urban areas, such as the Birmingham metropolitan area, vaccine packets will be dropped by hand from trucks alongside the tree lines. Helicopters will be used to drop baits in more heavily wooded areas that are more difficult to access. In rural areas with vast wooded lands, airplanes will be used.
People may see low-flying aircraft or helicopters in the vaccination area.
ADPH leaders say the rabies vaccine poses no risk of rabies to humans or animals if exposed. Animal reactions may include some mild digestive upset, but reactions are rarely serious.
If a packet is found, it should be handled with gloves, and either replaced in an area where a raccoon may find it or disposed of in the trash.
For more information about the federal ORV usage in Alabama, please contact the USDA at 1-866-4USDA-WS. For more information about rabies exposures, animal or human exposures to the ORV please call ADPH at 1-800-338-8374.