Falling from the sky: Air drop annihilates deadly virus in Tennessee

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The USDA is working to mass produce and distribute an anti-rabies vaccine to raccoons across the country, and they're starting the process in East Tennessee.

The USDA is working to mass produce and distribute an anti-rabies vaccine to raccoons across the country, and they're starting the process in East Tennessee.

WVLT News traveled to the Tri-Cities Airport in Johnson City on Oct. 16 for a demonstration of how officials keep the disease away from major cities.

Pilots take vaccines and dump "raccoon baits" in high populated areas. They expect "animals to take a bite out of the pouch and get a dose of the vaccination that's inside," said rabies wildlife biologist Erin Patrick.

Patrick said while rabies is the oldest known viral disease in the world, people still die from it. However, Patrick said the last time officials saw a rabies case in the Knox County area was back in 2005 and haven't seen any since.

Officials point to methods like "raccoon baits" as to why rabies cases have gone down in the area.

Learn more about rabies, including what to do if you are bitten by an animal, go here.

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