February 18, 2023
Many people know the importance of the rabies vaccine for their companion animals, but what about wildlife? According to an article, the Texas Department of State Health Services airdrops oral rabies vaccine packets to protect their wildlife populations. Texas began its most recent airdrop on January 10, 2023, which lasted for two weeks. They dropped nearly 814,000 oral rabies vaccine baits along the southern border of Texas. The state’s Oral Rabies Vaccination Program aims to protect mainly coyotes and foxes from contracting or transmitting this deadly disease.
This program has been airdropping wildlife oral vaccine baits for 29 years now. The edible bait packets look like small silica packets and are safe to ingest for 60 species of mammals and birds. Texas has had extraordinary results using these edible rabies baits. In 1994, a domestic dog/coyote rabies variant was at 122 cases before their first bait drop and dropped to 0 in 2000. In 1995, a grey fox rabies variant fell from 244 to 0 in 2009.
The main goals of this program are to target coyotes and grey foxes along the border to maintain herd immunity and to keep past variants from being reintroduced or new variants from entering the state. A news release states that rabies typically spreads through the bite of an infected animal. The sad reality is that if a person or an animal shows symptoms of rabies, it is almost always fatal. However, it is what the World Health Organization calls a “vaccine-preventable” disease, so that brings hope for the future. Programs like these are greatly needed to decrease the spread of rabies to wildlife.
Quick Fact! Did you know that it is required by law for your companion animals to be up to date on their rabies vaccine?