Columbus – The Ohio departments of Health (ODH) and Natural
Resources (ODNR), in partnership with the U.S. Department of
Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife
Services will begin fall oral rabies vaccination operations in 16
northeast and eastern Ohio counties.
“This local, state and federal partnership shows our commitment
to controlling raccoon-rabies variant in Ohio,” said ODH Director
Alvin D. Jackson, M.D. “Please show your commitment by vaccinating
As in past years, vaccine-bait distribution will take place in
all of Ashtabula, Columbiana, Geauga, Jefferson, Lake, Mahoning,
and Trumbull counties and parts of Belmont, Carroll, Cuyahoga,
Harrison, Monroe, Noble, Portage, Summit, and Washington counties.
Baits will be distributed by various methods in each county,
including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter, and local health
department staff in vehicles.
Residents in the areas to be baited should be aware of
low-flying aircraft and should keep children and pets away from the
Rabies is a viral disease that affects mammals and people. It is
almost always fatal. Since the mid-1970s, a rabies variant
associated with raccoons has spread rapidly through the eastern
United States. Spring and fall vaccine baiting operations are
intended to help curb the spread of raccoon-rabies variant (RRV)
west of an immune barrier established by regular rabies vaccination
that began in 1997. This immune barrier has successfully slowed the
spread of rabies into Ohio from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
As of Aug. 31, one skunk was confirmed positive from Lake County
for RRV, down from nine rabid animals (seven from Lake County and
two from Trumbull County) during 2008.
Weather permitting, baiting was to begin Sept. 6, and will cover
4,761 square miles of the state’s northeastern and eastern border.
Aerial distribution should be complete within 10 days; ground
baiting may continue beyond Sept. 25 depending on weather.
Two types of baits will be used. Airplanes will drop a small
plastic sachet, about the size of a ketchup packet, coated in
fishmeal. In urban areas, the vaccine will be inside a hard, brown,
2-x-2-inch fishmeal block that will be distributed by vehicles.
Most of the 877,680 baits will be distributed by air, with the use
of specially equipped airplanes and a helicopter from the ODNR.
Residents should avoid the baits and keep pets confined during
the baiting period. Dogs in particular are attracted to the baits
and will occasionally eat them. The baits are not harmful to pets.
Please keep the following information in mind:
€ Know what the baits look like. The coated sachet, which will
be distributed by aircraft, is about the size of a ketchup packet.
It is white and rolled in a brown fishmeal glaze. In urban areas,
where baits will be distributed by vehicle, the sachet will be
inside a hard, brown fishmeal block, about 2-x-2-inch square.
€ Instruct children to leave the baits alone.
€ Once your area is baited, keep dogs and cats inside or on
leashes for up to five days. Most baits disappear within 24 hours;
however, it is important raccoons have every opportunity to eat
€ Anyone handling baits should wear gloves. If baits are found
in areas frequented by pets or children, toss them into deeper
cover. Damaged baits can be disposed of in the trash.
€ If a person is exposed to the vaccine (red liquid), 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, call your local health department or ODH’s
information line at (888) 722-4371.
The rabies virus is found in the saliva of affected animals,
most often raccoons, skunks and bats, and is spread by a bite or
scratch. Bats, raccoons and skunks pose the greatest risk of rabies
To protect your family against this still-deadly disease:
€ Avoid contact with wild animals and animals you do not
€ Vaccinate your pets against rabies and keep them current on
€ If bitten, call your doctor. If your pet has contact with a
wild animal, call your veterinarian. Rabies exposures should also
be reported to your local health department.
Ohio’s partners in the multistate baiting are Maryland, North
Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, in
what is known as the Appalachian Ridge ORV program. The seven-state
effort will involve distribution of about 5 million baits and cover
more than 26,000 square miles. ODH has participated in the program
since 1997 and has dropped almost 13 million baits in Ohio over