Wildlife Rabies Vaccination Project Protects People and Pets

Tennessee Works with USDA, Other Southeast States on Rabies Vaccination Distribution
Friday, September 29, 2023 | 10:30am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Dept. of Health and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture will air drop oral rabies vaccine packets along Tennessee’s borders with Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, beginning Oct. 3, 2023.

“Rabies control keeps people, pets, and livestock safe,” State Epidemiologist John Dunn, DVM, PhD said. “Our partnership with USDA Wildlife Services in this project reduces rabies in wildlife and protects communities.”

The USDA’s Wildlife Services will distribute the bait packets from low-flying aircraft and helicopter over three weeks in Tennessee according to the following schedule:

Helicopter Distribution (urban areas)
• Oct. 4 to Oct. 9: Hamilton and Bradley counties
• Oct. 10 to Oct. 12: Greene, Hawkins, Sullivan, Carter, Unicoi, and Washington counties

Aircraft Distribution (rural areas)
• Oct, 3 to Oct.9: Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe, Polk, Rhea, and Sequatchie counties
• Oct.9 to Oct. 14: Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hawkins, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi, and Washington counties

Each bait packet is marked with a toll-free number (1-877-722-6725) for assistance or information if someone finds or touches a bait packet.

Although the vaccine and the bait packets are safe, the USDA Wildlife Services has issued these precautions for people and pets:
• Remove bait packets from where your pet could easily find and eat them.
• If you find a bait packet, confine your pets and look for other baits in the area. Wear gloves or use a towel to toss the bait packet into a wooded or fencerow area.
• Do not try to remove a bait packet from your pet’s mouth, as you could be bitten.
• If eaten, one bait packet won’t harm your pet, but consuming several might upset your pet’s stomach.
• Bait packets have a strong, fish-like smell. There is no harm in touching undamaged bait packets; however, always wear gloves or use a towel whenever you pick up a bait packet.
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if the bait packet has ruptured.
• Instruct children to leave bait packets alone.

For more information on rabies prevention or the oral rabies vaccine program, call the USDA Wildlife Services toll-free rabies line at 1-866-487-3297 or call TDH at 1-615-741-7247. Rabies information is also available on the USDA website and on TDH’s websites.