It will be raining rabies vaccines over the Maine woods this week.
About 365,000 oral rabies vaccines will be released across Aroostook, Penobscot and Piscataquis counties from Aug. 5 to 10, according to Lindsay Hammes, a spokesperson for the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another 50,000 vaccines will be dropped over northern Franklin County because of cases detected near the Quebec border in June.
That’s part of the Maine CDC’s annual rabies vaccine campaign, which is done with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.
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Those vaccines will be distributed by air and ground. Those in northeastern Maine will be fishmeal-coated cubes, about one or two inches in size. The Franklin County vaccines will be distributed as blister packs with a sweet, waxy coating, Hammes said Wednesday.
Humans and pets can’t get rabies from the vaccines, but Hammes advised people to not touch or move them.
Anyone who does come in contact with them should rinse the affected area with warm water and soap. Dogs that ingest multiple bait packs may get an upset stomach, but won’t face long-term health effects, according to Hammes.
Rabies can infect the nervous systems of humans and other animals, and it spreads mainly through the bites of infected animals.
It is almost fatal once symptoms develop.
The vast majority of rabies cases are reported in wildlife, and as of Aug. 1, there have been 43 confirmed cases across nine Maine counties in bats, raccoons, skunks, woodchucks, gray foxes, cats and goats.