The rabies oral vaccine baits will be dropped from airplanes and helicopters.

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More than 300,000 rabies oral vaccination baits are going to be falling from the sky around Pittsburgh. The USDA is flying over several local counties to drop the baits for raccoons and coyotes to eat.

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This will happen in Allegheny, Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington and Westmoreland counties. It’s part of the government’s National Rabies Management Program, which covers Maine all the way down to Alabama.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service began its annual distribution of the oral rabies vaccine bat RABORAL V-RG in parts of the eastern U.S. around Aug. 3.

These baits are coated in fishmeal and packaged in two-inch plastic sachets or one-inch square cubes. They’ll be distributed by airplane across rural areas, and by helicopter in suburban or urban areas.

So what happens if you find one?

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(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Boehringer Ingelheim)

The RABORAL V-RG vaccine is safe for more than 60 different species of animals, including cats and dogs.

Cats though rarely show an interest in eating a bait, says Dr. Joanne Maki from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, the maker of the vaccine. If a dog eats a lot of them, it might have an upset stomach, but there are no long-term health risks.

You can’t get rabies if you touch the bait, but you should leave it alone if you find one. Adults or children who come in contact with a bait should rinse that area with warm water and soap.

Dr. Maki says if a cat or dog eats the bait, they won’t be vaccinated since the dosage is calibrated specifically for raccoons.

Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, but it’s also 100 percent preventable.

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To help prevent the spread of rabies in wildlife, Dr. Maki says you should try to avoid attracting raccoons to your yard. Keep lids on your garbage cans, enclose food compost piles, and don’t leave dog and cat food overnight.