Rabies cases spur bait drops in SW Virginia

(PHOTO: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture)

Federal officials are sending pilots packed with vaccine baits to southwestern Virginia skies beginning Tuesday following a case of raccoon rabies earlier this spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Wildlife Service are conducting air drops of 350,000 cube-size fishmeal baits filled with vaccine in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and Letcher and Harlan counties in Kentucky, according to an agency report.

Through the course of the week, residents will see low-flying planes and helicopters with workers on-board dropping those cubes- an operation that has been done in the region since 2002 in an effort to stop the spread of the virus that infects the central nervous system of mammals.

The raccoon rabies case was the first confirmed in Wise County and the farthest west that the virus had been documented in the state, the agency said.

A second round of bait drops will take place in the same regions this October.