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Rabies baiting has begun
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2011
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Residents of Polk, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion McMinn, Meigs and Monroe will see low-flying aircraft and slow-moving vehicles from Oct. 1-15.

With a goal to stop the spread of the raccoon rabies into Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services and state Department of Health have begun distributing oral rabies vaccine baits along the state border. Residents of Polk, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion McMinn, Meigs and Monroe will see low-flying aircraft and slow-moving vehicles from Oct. 1-15.

The planned barrier runs along the Georgia border in southeast Tennessee up to the Virginia/North Carolina border in northeast Tennessee. The barrier is approximately 30-60 miles wide and consists of about 3,400 square miles. Bait distribution will be done by hand from vehicles in urban/suburban areas and by specially equipped fixed-wing aircraft in rural areas. There will be 8-12 flights per day, weather permitting. Plans call for distributing 611,000 baits, with 500,000 of them to be air dropped.

The ORV baits are small white plastic packets that are coated in fishmeal crumbles or inserted into a fishmeal block and placed in suitable raccoon habitat. Raccoons that eat the vaccine-laced bait become immune to rabies. Officials say the baits are not harmful to pets, although eating too many may cause vomiting or diarrhea. If a pet does eat a bait, you should avoid the pet’s saliva for 24 hours and wash any skin that may have been licked.

The baits should be left alone whenever possible and children should be told to leave them alone. If baits are found where children or pets play, they should be moved into a fencerow, woodlot, ditch or other raccoon  habitat. Wear gloves or use a towel to pick up the bait; although there is no harm in touching an undamaged bait, they have a strong fishmeal smell. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if there is any chance that the vaccine packet has been ruptured.

Most of the baits will be gone within 10-14 days after being dropped. About 4 weeks after the distribution, raccoons are live-trapped and tested for indication s of the vaccine. Increased surveillance for sick or dead raccoons is also continuing.

For more information, call Wildlife Services toll-free at 866-487-3297 or the Department of Health at 615-741-78247.

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