This news item expired on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
Beginning on or about October 5, 2022, approximately 56,700 baits containing the oral rabies vaccine will be distributed in greater Asheville, Burnsville, Mars Hill, and Waynesville, NC by helicopter.
In urban areas of Asheville, ground teams are distributing approximately 6,100 baits by hand. These baits consist of vaccine sachets encased inside fishmeal polymer baits about the size of a matchbox.
The entire project is expected to be completed by the middle of October, depending on weather and other factors.
The baits contain a vaccine that once consumed by a raccoon will vaccinate the animal against the rabies virus.
The ORV baits consist of a sachet, or plastic packet, containing the rabies vaccine. To make the baits attractive, the packets are sprinkled with a fishmeal coating or encased inside hard fishmeal–polymer blocks about the size of a matchbox.
Wildlife Services appreciates the assistance of the public by reporting strange acting animals to local animal control offices or to Wildlife Services toll-free at 1-866-4-USDA-WS.
Photo of oral rabies vaccine and container.
Tips for Public Encountering Baits or Bait Contact
If you find a bait, leave it where you found it unless it is on your lawn, driveway, or another area unlikely to attract raccoons. While wearing a glove, you can move the bait to an area of thicker cover where raccoons are more to likely find it.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with baits. An intact bait will not harm you, but the fishmeal smell may get on your skin. If a bait is broken and the liquid vaccine is visible, use gloves to place the bait in a bag and dispose of it with your regular trash. Once the bait has ruptured, it will no longer be effective. Again, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact with a bait.
This vaccine has been shown to be safe in over 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Eating a large number of baits may cause a temporarily upset stomach in your pet but does not pose a long-term health risk. Do not attempt to remove a bait from your pet; doing so may cause you to be bitten.
The vaccine does not contain the live rabies virus; however, it contains a single gene that may cause a local pox-type infection in people who are pregnant or have an immunodeficiency disease. Anyone who comes into contact with the liquid vaccine should wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and call the phone number listed on the bait or your local health department for further instructions and referral.