In September 2012, personnel from Fort Bend County Animal Services, Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and USDA Wildlife Services participated in a new wildlife (skunk) vaccination program, the Oral Rabies Vaccine Program (ORVP), with the ultimate goal of controlling rabies in skunks in Texas. Fort Bend County will continue its participation in the program with a second drop planned September 16-20, 2013.
During the implementation of the vaccination program for skunks, personnel from the three agencies will distribute approximately 100,000 vaccine baits in various parts of Fort Bend & Waller County. The vaccine in these baits cannot cause rabies because it contains only a single gene from the outer coating of the rabies virus, not the entire rabies virus. The vaccine has been shown to be safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including cats and dogs.
The Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) baits will be distributed by two helicopters in three designated baiting zones.The Fort Bend County bait distribution area is divided into a north and south zone roughly separated by highways 90 and 59. The north zone extends upward to around Simonton Rd. and Vernon Frost Rd. and down south to a line running east and west from approximately the west end of Albert Marek Road eastward to LW Cummings Road and Rustic Lane. The southern zone extends westward to approximately the intersection of West Tavener and Powell Point School Road and eastward to Highway 2759 and Jeffy Road. The southern boundary extends along Routt Point Road and Short Road. The Waller County zone consists of the portion of Waller County located between Hwy 290 and I-10.
About Rabies & Oral Vaccination
Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals. It is almost always transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The majority of rabies cases in the United States occur in wildlife including raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats. Rabies is almost invariably fatal; however, effective vaccines are available to protect people, pets, and livestock.
Rabies is one of the oldest known viral diseases, yet today it remains a significant wildlife-management and public-health challenge. Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) has been in use in the United States since 1990, in Canada since 1985 and in Europe since 1980. Currently there are 16 states distributing oral vaccines for raccoons in the U.S., while Texas distributes vaccine baits for gray fox and coyote (and with this project – skunks).
The ORV baits currently being used in the United States were developed and are manufactured by Merial, Inc. and consist of a sachet (plastic packet) containing the Raboral V-RG® rabies vaccine. To make the baits attractive to skunks, the sachets containing vaccine are sprinkled with fishmeal coating or encased inside hard fishmeal polymer baits about the size of a matchbox.
Throughout the many years of use in the United States and Canada, all vaccine bait contacts have been monitored. When an animal finds vaccine bait and bites into it, the sachet ruptures, coating the animal’s throat with vaccine. Animals that receive an adequate dose of the vaccine develop immunity to rabies. As the number of vaccinated animals in the population increases, it acts as a buffer to stop the spread of the disease to other wildlife, domestic animals, and humans.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if you find unbroken vaccine bait near your home? It is best to leave the bait where you found it unless it is on your lawn, driveway, or other area not likely to attract a skunk. While wearing a glove or other protective covering (e.g. plastic bag), you can move the vaccine bait to an area of thicker cover where a skunk will be more likely to find it.
Why do you need to wear a glove when handling the bait? For two reasons: one, an unbroken bait will not harm you, but the fish smell may get on your skin and is often objectionable to people and; two, it is medication. If you touch the bait, it is less likely to be eaten by a wild animal. If bait is broken and pink liquid (vaccine) is visible, while wearing gloves you may place the bait in a bag and dispose of it with your regular trash because the bait will no longer be effective.
If the pink liquid comes into contact with your skin or after any contact with vaccine bait, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water (as you would after contact with any medication) and call your local health authorities at 1-877-RABORAL (1-877-722-6725) or 281-238-3233.
More information can be found at www.fortbendcountyhhs.com or by calling Melanie Manville, 281-238-3551.