The state’s fall oral rabies-vaccination program to control the spread of the disease in raccoons begins Friday in the tri-county area.
The Ohio departments of health and natural resources, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services program and local health departments are conducting oral rabies vaccination operations in 14 counties in northeastern and eastern Ohio.
Weather permitting, baiting will begin Friday and cover 4,334 square miles of the state’s northeastern and eastern border. Bait distribution should be completed by Sept. 7, but may be extended because of weather conditions, officials said.
Bait distribution with the oral rabies vaccine Raboral V-RG will take place in all of Ashtabula, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning and Trumbull counties and parts of Belmont, Carroll, Harrison and Monroe counties.
Baits will be distributed via aircraft in rural areas and vehicles staffed by USDA and local health departments in urban areas.
Residents in the areas to be baited should be aware of low-flying aircraft and should keep children and pets away from the baits. Dogs in particular are attracted to the baits and occasionally will eat them; however, the baits are not harmful to pets.
Bait distributed in rural areas is about the size of a ketchup packet and is white and rolled in a brown fishmeal glaze. In urban areas, the bait will be inside a 2-by-2-inch hard, brown fish-meal block.
Children should be instructed to leave the baits alone, and after an area has been baited, dogs and cats should be kept inside or on leashes for up to five days. Most baits disappear within 24 hours; however, it is important that raccoons have every opportunity to eat them, officials said.
Anyone handling baits should wear gloves. If baits are found in areas frequented by pets or children, they should be tossed into deeper cover. Damaged baits can be disposed of in the trash. People exposed to the vaccine liquid should thoroughly wash any areas of the skin that came into contact with the vaccine with soap and water. If someone has been exposed to the vaccine or has questions about the baiting, they should call the ORV Information line at 614-752-1387 or their local health department.