Back in the 60’s and 70’s, El Paso was considered the rabies capital of the country. That’s according to Dr. Ken Waldrup who is a Veterinarian with the Texas Department of State and Health Services. Now, the department is making sure non-toxic packets get to wildlife like coyotes and foxes that may cross it.
“The whole idea is to trying to produce a vaccinated wildlife population that if we had a rabies outbreak in foxes or coyotes or skunks, that came south along the river… that they would encounter our vaccinated population here,” Dr. Waldrup explained.
As part of the Oral Rabies Vaccination Program, regional veterinarians travel across the state to drop packets covered in fish oil and food that’s filled with rabies vaccine in wild areas, in efforts to prevent exposure to other animals or humans to the virus.
“Something of these things can have a complicated lifestyle. We tend to think of rabies being very direct but yes, bats to foxes. That one actually bit a dog, that rabid fox, but that dog was vaccinated. So hey, that’s the way it’s supposed to work,” Dr. Waldrup shared.
Here in the Borderland, Dr. Waldrup reminds pet owners it’s always best to keep watch especially while on walking trails, and be responsible.
“For at least the next several days, if you’re going to walk your dog, please keep them on a leash. We want the coyotes and the foxes to get them, not your dog,” Dr. Waldrup said, “We would still always encourage all dog and cat owners, it is state law but it’s also really good sense to have your animals vaccinated for rabies.”
Dr. Waldrup also shared this time of year is best to do the rabies vaccine drops since the cooler temperatures make the packets last a few days, and it’s also when coyotes as well as foxes are searching for food.