Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) has been in use in the United States since 1990, in Canada since 1985 and in Europe since 1980. Currently there are 16 states distributing oral vaccines for raccoons in the U.S., while Texas distributes baits for gray fox and coyote.
The ORV baits currently being used in the United States are developed and manufactured by Merial, Inc. and consist of a sachet, or plastic packet containing the Raboral V-RG® rabies vaccine. To make the baits attractive, the sachets containing vaccine are sprinkled with fishmeal coating or encased inside hard fishmeal polymer baits about the size of a matchbox.
When an animal finds a bait and bites into it, the sachet ruptures, allowing the animal to swallow the vaccine. Animals that swallow an adequate dose of the vaccine, develop immunity to rabies. As the number of vaccinated animals in the population increases, they act as a buffer to stop the spread of the disease to other wildlife, domestic animals, and people.
The ORV baits are distributed by air and ground personnel. Fixed-wing aircraft are the most effective means for distributing large numbers of the ORV baits. Hand-baiting is important for reaching urban areas where there may be safety risks associated with distributing baits by air and to reduce the possibility of people and domestic animals coming into contact with the baits.