Racoons and Rabies
Raccoon rabies is found throughout the atlantic and southeastern states. It is a viral infection that can affect the nervous system of any mammal, including humans. The disease is almost always fatal to both people and animals. Raccoon rabies spreads rapidly and infects large numbers of raccoons. The disease often spreads to other wildlife and pets, making human exposure a real concern. To address this problem, the USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services and the Tennessee Department of Health are participating in a combined federal and state agency program, to keep this animal epidemic from spreading further westward by eliminating raccoon rabies in northeastern Tennessee counties.
The oral rabies vaccine bait, shown here, consists of a square block made from a compressed mixture of fishmeal and fish oil known to attract raccoons. The vaccine (dyed pink) is inside a plastic packet that is inserted in the middle of the block. Baits are distributed from vehicles or airplanes. Most of the baits will be consumed about five days after being distributed. People should tell their children to leave the baits alone. Pet owners are asked to keep their dogs and cats inside or on leashes so raccoons can eat the baits.