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Texas nearly ends rabies with aerial vaccine drops

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#1 Hum

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 23:29

Three King Air planes are lined up on a small runway in the town of Del Rio preparing to bomb south Texas—not with explosives, but with hundreds of thousands of packets of rabies vaccine.

The packets, each about the size of fast food ketchup, contain enough vaccine to inoculate the coyotes that roam the southwest Texas brush country against rabies, which until the last two decades was threatening livestock and humans alike.

"We had two outbreaks of rabies in coyotes and in foxes," recalls Dr. Ernest Oertli, a veterinarian who works with ranchers in this area. "There were a couple of human deaths from rabies, and it was spreading northward and eastward into the populated parts of the state, and was on the outskirts of San Antonio, Austin, Waco and Ft. Worth."

Oertli said that at the time, animal and human health experts were worried about an urban rabies epidemic, and were urgently telling residents to vaccinate their pets against rabies. Rabies in humans is almost always fatal unless the patient receives immediate and lengthy treatment.

Researchers with the Texas Department of State Health Services learned of an aerial vaccination program underway in Canada, and decided to try it in the equally vast south and west regions of Texas. The results over the past 18 years have been dramatic, according to department spokesman Chris Van Deusen.

"Animal cases of the canine strain of rabies in southern Texas fell from 122 the year before the program began, to zero in 2000," Van Deusen said. "There have only been two cases since then, and both of them were within a mile of the Rio Grande."

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#2 shakey

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 23:43

And Petsmart will still hound me for my dogs rabies vaccination papers when I want to get them groomed.

#3 DocM

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 23:44

But it's the municipalities that require it.

#4 M_Lyons10

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 01:37

Wow. What a good idea. More states should do this.

#5 Growled

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 02:59

I agree, an excellent idea.

#6 DocM

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 04:06

Me too. Good thinking Texas.