Oral Rabies Vaccine Pellets Being Dropped in Pocahontas County

The Wildlife Services Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is working with the WV Dept. of Health to protect people and pets from the threat of rabies in parts of West Virginia, including Pocahontas County.  They are using aircraft drops, as well as cars to distribute oral rabies pellet baits to vaccinate raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes in an effort to stop the further spread of that disease, which can be fatal to people bitten by a rabies infected animal unless they receive treatment shots after exposure.

The baits are being distributed between August 22nd and September 5th.

Here is some additional information and some warnings the Wildlife Division and Health Department are providing about these baits.

The bait pellets are about the size of a matchbox and are coated with fishmeal flavoring or a sweet vanilla wax to attract the animals to ingest them. Because of that, people are warned that if they find any of these oral rabies vaccines, touching – or even worse, ingesting them – can cause serious health problems for people. So leave them alone unless they are located in an area where children or pets play. If you find them in such a place, wear gloves or use a paper towel or a plastic bag to pick them up and toss them into a wooded area away from pets or people. This will help ensure that raccoons or the other animals they are intended to vaccinate can find them, not children or pets. If the bait has been damaged, bag them and dispose of them in the trash.

If you do come into contact with any of these baits, especially any damaged ones, wash any skin or wounds that may have come into contact with any of these baits with soap and water as quickly as possible.

They also offer the following information in case your pets eat any of the bait:

First of all, don’t panic! If your pet eats one or even a few of the baits, since they are not particularly harmful to pets, however eating a large number of them may cause your pet to have an upset stomach.

If you find a pet in the process of eating one, don’t risk getting bitten or of having the bait contaminate your skin by trying to take the bait away from a pet. Instead, check the nearby area and use gloves, paper towels or a plastic bag, to remove any other baits you find to an area more likely to be inhabited by raccoons than by pets or kids.

They also warn people to avoid contact with your pet’s saliva for 24 hours if the pet has eaten or partially eaten one of these baits. The baits are more harmful to people then to pets. If your pet does lick you within the 24 hours, be sure to wash your exposed skin well with soap and water as quickly as possible.

With rabies being such a serious threat to human life, this baiting program should go a long way to help safeguard our community from that disease. Just remember to heed these warnings about handling any baits you may find.


Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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