The Maine Center for Disease Control is teaming with the USDA to distribute oral rabies vaccine in wooded areas of northern Maine this month in an effort to curb the spread of the disease.

The project is specifically targeting raccoons. Tens of thousands of rabies vaccines will be dropped by air and others placed on the ground over a  2,600-square-mile area covering several communities including Houlton, Mars Hill and Patten.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccines will be distributed between August 6 and August 11 through a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The CDC says the oral rabies vaccine baits are coated with fish meal and dispensed in one-inch square cubes or two-inch plastic sachets. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits but should leave them undisturbed. If skin contact occurs, you should rinse the affected area with warm water and soap.

This vaccine is shown to be safe in more than 60 species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Dogs that consume large numbers of baits may experience an upset stomach, but there are no known long-term health risks.

To help protect yourself and your pet against rabies:

  • Keep your pet's rabies vaccination current
  • Feed pets indoors
  • Keep garbage cans or other sources of food tightly secured
  • Do not feed, touch, or adopt wild animals and be cautious of stray dogs and cats
  • Do not relocate wildlife because this can spread rabies into new areas
  • Wash wounds resulting from potential rabies exposures thoroughly with soap and water.

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