AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services said it would begin its 29th oral rabies vaccination program vaccine bait airdrop.
“Four Beechcraft airplanes from the Dynamic Aviation Group, Inc., and a Hughes helicopter from Texas Wildlife Services, will make 8-12 flights per day at 500 to 1,000 feet above ground level along half-mile interval lines,” the DSHS said.
The DSHS said the airdrop would continue across the state for roughly two weeks, with nearly 814,000 oral rabies vaccine baits being dropped.
“Our goal is to vaccinate wildlife, with target species being coyotes and gray foxes, along the border to maintain herd immunity and to keep past variants from being reintroduced or new variants from entering Texas,” Dr. Susan Rollo, the ORVP director, said. “We will be delivering vaccine baits to 18 counties this year.”
The DSHS said funding for the nearly $2 million project was provided by the state and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service/Wildlife Services.
“The vaccine is proven safe in 60 species of mammals and birds,” Rollo said. “The vaccine cannot cause rabies in humans or animals, even if it is ingested. However, as a precautionary measure, if a human or domestic animal is exposed to the vaccine, the Texas Department of State Health Services should be contacted.”
The DSHS said rabies typically spreads through the bite of an infected animal, and if a person or animal exhibits symptoms of rabies, it is almost always fatal.
According to the health department, bats and skunks are currently the most significant sources of rabies in Texas.