Rabies vaccines distributed by helicopter, truck in Alabama


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Workers are using helicopters and trucks to distribute thousands of oral vaccines across a 17-county region of Alabama to help stop the spread of rabies.

The state health department says packets containing a vaccine meant to be found by raccoons will be distributed along roadsides in populated areas including metropolitan Birmingham. Trucks will be used for that work.

Vaccine packets will be dropped out of helicopters or low-flying airplanes over forests and other rural areas.

The packs consist of a plastic satchel that contains the rabies vaccine. The shell is coated with fishmeal or dog meal, and raccoons come into contact with the vaccine when they tear open the pack with their teeth.

The health department says the contents of the packet doesn’t pose a risk of rabies to other animals or human.

“Vaccination is very, very effective, with only rare cases of rabies occurring in vaccinated animals,” Dr. Dee W. Jones, the state veterinarian, said in a statement.

The work started Oct. 1. The program includes Bibb, Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Coosa, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Jackson, Jefferson, Marshall, Morgan, Shelby, St. Clair, Talladega and Tuscaloosa counties.

The state says more than 7,000 animal bites and potential rabies exposures are investigated annually.