Jan. 2, 2012
The Texas Department of State
Health Services this week begins its annual airdrop of rabies vaccine baits
over portions of southern and western Texas
in the continuing effort to protect people and livestock from rabies. Planes
will take off from airports in Zapata and Alpine around dawn Wednesday, Jan. 4
and from Del Rio
on Thursday, Jan. 12. They will drop about 1.8 million doses of rabies vaccine
over the next month as part of the DSHS Oral Rabies Vaccination Program.
“This approach has been a huge
success,” said veterinarian Ernest Oertli, the vaccination program’s director.
“We haven’t seen a single human case of rabies in the areas covered by the
program since it started in 1995, and the number of animal cases has dropped
Animal cases of the canine strain
of rabies in southern Texas
fell from 122 in 1994 to zero in 2000. There have since been single cases in
2001 and 2004. The fox strain, prevalent in western Texas, dropped from 244 animal cases in
1995, the year before the project expanded to that area, to zero in 2010 and
“We have effectively eliminated
these two strains of rabies from Texas,”
said Oertli. “Now our goal is prevent them from being reintroduced as animals
move in and out of the state.”
The vaccine dose is enclosed in a
small packet dipped in fish oil and coated with fish meal crumbles. The baits don’t
pose any risk to humans, but people should avoid handling them since human
contact makes it less likely a wild animal will eat the baits.
Rabies is a deadly virus spread
through the saliva of infected animals, usually by a bite. Preventing rabies is
critical because once a person or animal displays symptoms, the disease is
almost always fatal.
DSHS urges everyone to have their
pets vaccinated against rabies, as required by law. Vaccinating domestic
animals is essential to stopping the spread of rabies.
(News Media Contact: Chris Van Deusen, DSHS Assistant Press
DSHS Press Office on Twitter