DALTON, Ga. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s,
Wildlife Services has begun distributing oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits for wildlife in parts of northwest
Georgia this month. The smell of the ORV baits attracts targeted wild animals, such as raccoons, who eat
the baits and are then vaccinated against rabies.


The ORV bait distribution program is part of management activities to prevent the westward
movement of the rabies virus most often spread by raccoons. ORV baits are distributed using fixed-wing
aircraft, helicopters or from vehicles on the ground. The vaccine baits have been proven safe in many
species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact
with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them. If contact with
baits occurs, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap.

The project is based out Dalton, Georgia and will take place from approximately October 15 – 22
and cover all of Catoosa and Dade counties and parts of Chattooga, Murray, Walker and Whitfield
counties in northwest Georgia, as well as areas in southeast Tennessee, northeast Alabama, and
western North Carolina. Almost 1 million baits will be distributed by fixed wing aircraft in rural areas,
including over 200,000 baits in Georgia. Last week, approximately 7,000 baits were dispersed by
helicopter in urban and suburban areas of northwest Georgia such as the city of Dalton.

Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals and represents a
serious public health concern. If exposures to the virus are not treated it is almost always fatal. Costs
associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies exceed $300 million annually in the
U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of reported rabies
cases in the U.S. are in wildlife. People are urged not to make contact with or feed wildlife and to keep
their pets’ rabies vaccinations current.

ORV baits have been distributed in Georgia since 2003 as part of a larger effort by the Wildlife
Services, National Rabies Management Program to prevent the westward spread of raccoon rabies by
creating a barrier along the Appalachian Mountains from the Canadian border to Alabama.
For more information about the National Rabies Management Program, visit
here.