This past November, USDA Secretary Dan Glickman issued a declaration of emergency and appropriated $4.2 million to halt the spread of rabies through an oral rabies vaccination program for wildlife.
Funds will be used in strategic areas to reinforce and expand immunization barriers to stop the westward movement of the disease from Ohio. Extending the barrier from Ohio to West Virginia is the highest priority at this time, and, of the emergency funds now available, $1.3 million has been earmarked for this effort.
Ohio will also receive funds to reinforce its current barriers. Furthermore, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Texas will receive funds to reinforce and expand barriers to keep the disease from moving northward.
Costs associated with wildlife rabies are estimated to top $450 million annually and are expected to increase dramatically unless the spread of the disease can be stopped. More than 90 percent of reported rabies cases have involved wild animals, and more than 50 percent involve raccoons in major US metropolitan areas.
In recent years, the USDA-APHIS and the states of Ohio, Vermont, New York, and Texas have been working together to address rabies incidents by implementing an oral rabies vaccination program that creates immunization barriers to control the spread of the disease.
APHIS contributed $1.3 million toward rabies control in fiscal year 1998 and $1.5 million in both fiscal years 1999 and 2000.