Rabies Vaccine Distribution in Jefferson County
Greetings Elected Official,
The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) recently announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will once again be distributing oral rabies vaccine (ORV) beginning on October 3 to reduce raccoon rabies and the associated public health risks from rabies exposures. The areas that will be impacted and the dates for vaccine distribution are as follows:
- October 3-10: urban and suburban communities in Birmingham.
- In urban areas, vaccine packets are distributed by hand from trucks alongside the tree lines. Helicopters are often used to drop baits in more heavily wooded areas that are more difficult to access.
- October 10-21: rural areas in parts of Jefferson County.
- In rural areas with vast wooded lands, airplanes will be used. Altogether, residents may see low-flying aircraft or helicopters in the vaccination area.
NOTE: The vaccine packets consist of a sachet, or plastic pack, containing the rabies vaccine. The outer shell of the packet is coated with fishmeal or dog meal to attract raccoons. Raccoons are vaccinated by opening the packet with their teeth, which exposes their gums to vaccine. Animal exposures are common, but the ORV poses no risk of rabies to humans or animals if exposed. Animal reactions may include some mild digestive upset, but reactions are rarely serious.
If a packet is found:
- Handle it with gloves AND
- Place it in an area where a raccoon may find it OR
- Dispose of it in the trash.
Occasionally, skin reactions occur in humans. It is best to avoid direct contact with the skin, eyes or mucous membranes with the vaccine. If exposure occurs accidentally, then it is recommended that the person wash hands with warm water and soap. Should more serious reactions occur, there is a telephone number on the vaccine packet to call for more information.
For more information about the federal ORV usage in Alabama, please contact the USDA at 1-866-4USDA-WS. For more information about rabies exposures, animal or human exposures to the ORV, please call ADPH at (334) 206-5969.
David Hicks, DO, MPH, FAAFP