Melanie Manville is with Fort Bend County’s Health and Human Services. She says county has the highest number of reported cases of rabid wildlife in the state. More skunks are turning up as they look for water and shade to escape the heat.
“And, also, when you start building new subdivisions, there’s a lot more growth going on. And you tend to get them kinda rattled in their environment. They come out of the woodwork more.”
Fort Bend is the first county in the Houston Metro area to try an oral rabies vaccine program. Small planes and helicopters will drop about 42,000 doses. Each dose is about the size of a ketchup packet.
“And it’s covered in fish meal, which does not smell very good, but it attracts the animals. There’s a gel vaccine inside of it. When they bite into it, it squirts into their mouth, and they ingest it.”
Manville says crews will focus mostly on less-developed areas north and south of Rosenberg. She adds if vaccine packets turn up in a backyard or driveway, they will not harm domestic pets or children. They are safe to move. But Manville advises people wear gloves to keep their skin from smelling like fish meal. Broken packets should be thrown away, as they are no longer effective.
If this oral vaccine program reduces the number of rabid wildlife in Fort Bend County, it could be expanded to the rest of the state.