A rabies vaccine sachet, left, coated with fishmeal, and a fishmeal cube containing the vaccine, with a quarter for perspective. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Airplanes will drop packets of vaccine into rural woods in efforts to eliminate raccoon rabies.

State officials will release about 351,000 oral rabies vaccines baits targeting raccoons this month with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s help.

The effort comes as Maine sees 42 cases of animal rabies in 13 out of 16 counties so far this year. Those cases involve rabid bats, raccoons, striped skunks, gray foxes, otters, domestic cats and woodchucks.

The baits are coated with brown fishmeal and will be released by air and ground methods in northern Maine. Wildlife personnel will distribute vaccine baits from vehicles in more populated areas such as Houlton.

The last reported case of human rabies in Maine was in 1937. Police on Monday said a rabid fox bit three individuals in Brunswick.

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