- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Vermont’s annual rabies bait drop is due to begin on Monday with vaccine-laced bait being dropped from airplanes and placed by hand in other areas as part of an effort to stop the spread of rabies, officials said.

Weather permitting, bait will be dropped from airplanes into rural parts of the state, especially along the Canadian border. Bait will be placed by hand in more urban areas.

It will be spread in eight of Vermont’s 14 counties.

The Health Department says 18 of 31 animals that tested positive for rabies so far this year were in Chittenden County.

One reason so many cases are being detected in Chittenden County is that police in Burlington and South Burlington are doing a good job of capturing animals that are acting strangely and making sure they are tested, Johnson said.

“The (US Department of Agriculture) may increase the dose of vaccine in the baits this year due to the number of cases in densely populated areas,” Johnson said.

The bait should cause no adverse health effects for people, including children, or pets that may come into contact with it and the vaccine. The bait cannot cause rabies but people should keep their dogs on a leash during the bait drop period.

Anyone who finds the bait should leave it untouched. If it’s found on a lawn or driveway, it should be removed with a gloved hand. People should then wash their hands with soap and water.

The sweet-scented baits are slightly larger than a quarter and come in blister packs covered by a dark green waxy coating.