Oral rabies vaccination baits being dropped in Mercer, McDowell counties

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Aug. 6—BLUEFIELD — Starting Friday, oral rabies vaccination baits were scheduled to be dropped in southern West Virginia counties including Mercer, McDowell, Summers, Fayette, Wyoming and Raleigh.

The Wildlife Services program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) is working with the West Virginia Department Health to place oral rabies vaccine baits (ORV) to vaccinate raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes to help stop the spread of rabies, according to an announcement posted by the Mercer County Health Department.

The vaccination baits will be distributed from Friday, Aug. 5 to Monday, Aug. 8 and again from Aug. 24 to 31.

ORV baits are about the size of matchbox and are coated with a fishmeal favoring or a sweet vanilla wax.

People who find ORV baits should leave them alone unless they are where children or pets play. To move ORV baits, safely, the following precautions should be taken:

—Wear gloves or use a paper towel or plastic bag when picking up the baits.

—Toss intact baits into a wooded area or other wildlife habitat.

—Bag and dispose of any damaged baits in the trash.

—Take precautions by practicing proper hygiene including washing with soap and water any skin or wounds that may have had contact with ORV baits, especially if the bait was damaged.

If a pet eats a bait:

—Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions.

—A few baits are not harmful, but eating a large number of them may cause an upset stomach, according to the USDA.

—Do not risk getting bitten or exposed to the vaccine by taking a bait away from a pet.

—Check the area for more baits and relocate any remaining baits to a wooded area.

—If a pet eats a bait, avoid its salvia from 24 hours and wash skin or wounds that may have been licked.

The Rabies Information Hotline can be reached at 304-558-5358.

For additional information concerning rabies or the ORV program, visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/programs/nrmp or contact WS toll free at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297).

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com