Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for



Date of this Version

August 2006


Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system in mammals and is almost always transmitted through saliva when an infected animal bites an uninfected animal or person. Rabies is invariably fatal if left untreated; however, effective vaccines are available to protect people and pets.
More than 90 percent of all rabies cases reported each year in the United States occur in wildlife. Several different variants of the rabies virus exist in this country, and all variants are capable of infecting mammals, including humans. Raccoons and skunks are responsible for most reported cases, but bats, foxes, and coyotes also commonly transmit the disease.
WS, a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), helps alleviate or minimize wildlife damage to agricultural, urban, and natural resources. The oral rabies vaccine, manufactured by Merial Inc., consists of a sachet or plastic packet containing the Raboral V-RG® rabies vaccine. After baits have been distributed and raccoons have had a chance to ingest them, WS works with its cooperators to measure the success of the ORV campaign. Expertise from a variety of sources, including public health, wildlife, and agricultural agencies, is integral to the overall team-centered approach for rabies prevention and control.