The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Wildlife Services program (WS) will conduct an emergency spring oral rabies vaccine (ORV) bait distribution program in southwestern Virginia to vaccinate raccoons against the rabies virus. Bait distribution in Virginia is part of a nationwide, cooperative effort by USDA to prevent the westward spread of raccoon rabies in the eastern United States. Implementation of this program in Virginia is a cooperative effort between USDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health, and other state agencies.
The spring 2017 baiting campaign is being conducted in response to a rabies-positive raccoon reported from the Big Stone Gap area of Wise County, VA, where it was not previously detected. Beginning on or about May 31, 2017, approximately 355,000 coated sachet baits containing the oral rabies vaccine will be distributed across a 608 square-mile bait zone in parts of Lee, Wise, and Wise County, Virginia, including the communities of Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Dryden, Duffield, Norton, and Wise. Baits will be distributed by low-flying fixed wing airplanes and a helicopter. The aerial bait drop is expected to last for about 1 week. This effort will be repeated in October 2017 as part of a larger rabies baiting project.
As the oral rabies vaccination baits are aerially distributed, a navigator controls the bait machine and turns off the machine as necessary to avoid dropping baits on roadways, structures, large bodies of water, etc. The ORV baits which will be distributed are RABORAL V-RG® coated sachets. The coated sachet is a plastic packet of vaccine coated with a sticky, fish-scented substance to attract raccoons. Each bait is marked with a toll-free number (1-877-722-6725) for people to call for assistance or information if they find or come in contact with a bait.