Date of this Version
During the 1990s, the number of reported cases of rabies among wild animals in the United States increased dramatically. This surge in the number of rabies cases is especially evident in the eastern United States where raccoons account for about 40 percent of all documented cases. While the raccoon strain of rabies is already enzootic (endemic) in much of the eastern United States, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (WS) biologists in cooperation with State, Federal, university, and other partners are working to stop the westward spread of this deadly disease. Since 1997, a coalition of cooperators has distributed more than 9 million units of oral rabies vaccination (ORV) bait in Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia to create a barrier of immune raccoons to prevent spread of the virus. Initially, WS entered into cooperative programs with Ohio, New York, and Vermont. The need to lengthen the barrier to close off corridors where raccoon rabies could spread to the West led to the involvement of other cooperating States. This summer, Tennessee and Virginia are joining the program. Pennsylvania will be greatly expanding its involvement to include the western portion of the State.