By Gaige Davila
Fishmeal-coated, plastic pouches filled with rabies vaccine were placed throughout unpopulated parts of South Padre Island on Wednesday morning, as part of the city’s effort to prevent rabies in the local coyote population.
The vaccine is for the dog strain of rabies, which can be transmitted to coyotes. This is the vaccine distribution program’s tenth year in South Padre Island.
The vaccine distribution was done by South Padre Island’s Animal Control Division, who are assisting the Texas Department of State Health Services, Zoonosis Control Division.
Rabies in coyotes was particularly explosive between 1988 and 1994, when 644 laboratory-confirmed cases of dog strain rabies in coyotes and other mammals occurred in 20 South Texas counties, leading to a statewide rabies quarantine in 1995, according to a 1995 conference paper by Keith A. Clark and Pamela J. Wilson, both with the Texas Department of Health, Zoonosis Control Division.
In 1995, 850,000 vaccine packets were dropped via airplane into South Texas counties. Rabies in South Texas coyotes was declared eradicated in 2008 by the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“We have participated in the program for 10 years and it has proven to be successful,” said Victor Baldovinos, Environmental Health director for South Padre Island said in a statement. “This is done as a preventive measure.”