BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — The City of Gulf Shores is preparing residents for a massive drop of rabies vaccines starting Jan. 24. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is dropping a fleet of rabies vaccines via airplane and helicopter in locations across Alabama, including Gulf Shores.

The vaccines are used to protect local raccoon populations from the virus.

An estimated 2,880 oral rabies vaccines (ORV) will be dropped within the bait zone in the hopes that raccoons will eat the vaccine. These vaccines are coated in fishmeal to make them more attractive to the raccoons, and possibly your pet. 

The City of Gulf Shores is reminding residents to keep their “heads up” and be out on the look for ORV’S. ORV are not harmful to pets, unless they eat a large number of them. If your pet gets a hold of one, do not touch it. You may be exposed to the vaccine if you touch a damaged ORV pack. You also run the chance of getting bitten by your pet. 

The City of Gulf Shores advises you to take the following precautions when coming in contact with an ORV pack:

  • If your pet eats a bait, avoid your pet’s saliva for 24 hours, and wash skin or wounds that may have been licked
  • Check the area for more baits and relocate any remaining baits to a wooded area
  • Wear gloves or use a paper towel or plastic bag when picking up the baits
  • Toss intact baits into a wooded area or other raccoon habitat
  • Bag and dispose of any damaged baits in the trash
  • Take precautions by practicing proper hygiene – wash with soap and water any skin or wounds that may have come into contact with ORV baits, especially if the bait was damaged.

If you see an ORV pack, it’s best to leave it alone unless it’s in an area where children or pets play, according to a Facebook post from the City of Gulf Shores. The drop will start Jan. 24 and end Feb. 5 in Baldwin County.

If you have any questions about ORV bait, you can call the Rabies Information line at 1-866-487-3297 or the Alabama Department of Public Health at 1-800-151-1818. For more information, click here.