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Ohio Department of Health plans to airdrop 800,000 doses of rabies vaccine across the state

Posted at 12:49 PM, Aug 20, 2019

Later this week, Ohio plans to drop nearly a million vaccine doses across 14 counties to inoculate the state’s raccoon population against rabies.

The Ohio Department of Health is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Service to drop around 800,000 vaccine baits across a 4,825 square mile area to create an “immune barrier” along the state line.

Health officials said the baits are small blister packs filled with vaccine and covered in a green waxy coating that is sweet-smelling.

The baits will be air-dropped by plane and helicopter and distributed by ground crews starting on Aug. 23. Residents should be aware of low-flying aircraft.

The baits will be placed in the following counties:

  • Ashtabula
  • Belmont
  • Carroll
  • Columbiana
  • Geauga
  • Harrison
  • Jefferson
  • Lake
  • Mahoning
  • Monroe
  • Portage
  • Stark
  • Trumbull
  • Tuscarawas

Even though the baits have been proven save for dogs and cats, residents in those counties are asked to keep children and pets away from the baits.

Anyone who comes in contact with the baits should wash the contact area with soap and water.

State officials are advising the following:

  • Instruct children to leave the baits alone.
  • The baits are not harmful to pets. However, it is recommended to keep dogs and cats inside or on leashes for up to five days after baiting occurs to give raccoons and other wildlife an opportunity to eat the baits. Most baits disappear within 24 hours.
  • Do not try to remove bait from a pet’s mouth to avoid potential injury.
  • Anyone handling baits should wear gloves. If baits are found in areas frequented by pets or children, toss them into deeper ground cover. Damaged baits can be disposed of in the trash.
  • If a person is exposed to the liquid vaccine within the bait, thoroughly wash exposed skin with soap and warm water.
  • Anyone with questions about the baiting can call the Oral Rabies Vaccination Baiting Information Line at (888) 574-6656 or call your local health department.

According to ODH, the rabies virus can be found in the saliva of an animal infected with it. The virus is most commonly found in raccoon, skunks and bats. In 2018, 12 animals were found to have been infected by the raccoon-variant rabies virus. This year, two raccoon cases have been confirmed in Ashtabula and Tuscarawas counties.

More information can be found, here.