RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Raccoon rabies is present in the raccoon population in almost every North Carolina county. To better protect people, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is planning to distribute an oral rabies vaccine.

Distribution of the RABORAL V-RG, an oral rabies vaccine bait, will start soon.

ORV baits are covered in a fishmeal to attract raccoons and are packaged in plastic sachets or cubes. The vaccines will be distributed in across rural areas by plane and in suburban or urban areas by helicopter, vehicle and bait station.

The oral vaccines will be distributed in North Carolina as part of two projects.

  • The Abingdon, Va., project will cover parts of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia and distribute more than 880,000 ORV baits by airplane, helicopter, and vehicle.
  • The Dalton, Ga., project will cover parts of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, distributing approximately 820,000 ORV baits by airplane and helicopter.

Pet owners don’t have to worry about the vaccines if your animal comes across them. USDA said they are deemed safe in more than 60 different species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. The baits are not harmful but they should be left alone if found.

If a dog consumes a large amount, they may experience an upset stomach. USDA said there are no long-term health risks to be worried about.

People who come in contact with baits are asked to wash the contact area with warm water and soap right away.