About 750,000 vaccine pellets twice the size of an ice cube will be
dropped on West
Virginia's western and west central counties, the edge of the state's
Rabies was recently certified in a fox in Calhoun County, although
expressed more concern about the spread into the raccoon population.
Despite numerous kills and erratic behavior in Calhoun raccoons, none
certified with rabies. Most appear to be suffering from distemper.
The pellets will be dropped from helicopters and airplanes, the
animals eating the
fish-scented cubes and becoming immune to the disease. Dr. Henry
Taylor, chief of
West Virginia's Bureau of Public Health says he is concerned about
raccoons. In 1985
the agency validated 15 positive raccoons. That has now jumped to
The outbreak has crept over 31 of West Virginia's 55 counties during
the past years,
moving west, north and south. The state's westernmost counties are on
the edge, yet
to be declared part of the outbreak.
The vaccine has proved extremely effective against the disease,
according to the
USDA Fish and Wildlife. The $1.5 million pellet program will be a
joint venture of the
West Virginia Department of Agriculture, the West Virginia Bureau of
Health and the
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Bill Bonwell, state director of wildlife services for the USDA, says
the pellets are
otherwise harmless to other species.