Austin (KXAN) — The Texas Department of Health said Tuesday it will begin its 29th distribution of a bait vaccine for the oral rabies vaccination program.
“Four Beechcraft aircraft from Dynamic Aviation Group, Inc. and a Hughes helicopter from Texas Wildlife Services will make 8 to 12 flights per day from 500 to 1,000 feet above ground level on lines at half-mile intervals,” DSHS said in a statement.
DSHS said the distribution will continue statewide for approximately two weeks, with nearly 814,000 oral rabies vaccine baits dropped.
“Our goal is to vaccinate wildlife targeted by coyotes and gray foxes along the border to maintain herd immunity and prevent reintroduction of past variants or entry of new variants into Texas,” said Dr. Susan Rollo, director of ORVP. . “This year we will deliver vaccine baits to 18 counties.”
DSHS said funding for the nearly $2 million project was provided by the state and the USDA/Wildlife Service’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
“The vaccine has been proven safe for 60 species of mammals and birds,” Rollo said. “The vaccine cannot cause rabies in humans or animals, even if swallowed. However, as a precautionary measure, if a person or pet is exposed to the vaccine, the Texas Department of Health should be contacted.”
DSHS said rabies is usually spread through the bite of an infected animal, and if a person or animal shows symptoms of rabies, it is almost always fatal.
According to the Department of Health, bats and skunks are currently the most significant sources of rabies in Texas.