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USDA to begin aerial vaccine drops to combat wildlife rabies in Ohio

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Posted at 12:18 PM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 12:18:48-04

CLEVELAND — The U.S. Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health will begin aerial drops of oral rabies vaccine (ORV) for wildlife in parts of eastern Ohio this month.

Baits will be distributed using fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters, or from vehicles on the ground.

Between Aug. 11 and 20, ORV bait distribution will include rural Ashtabula, Carroll, Columbiana, Jefferson, Mahoning, Stark, Trumbull and Tuscarawas counties. Parts of Geauga, Lake and Portage counties will be included in the drop.

The ORV bait contains a blister pack, covered in a waxy green coating that has a sugar-vanilla smell. The odor attracts targeted wild animals, such as raccoons, who eat the baits, which in turn vaccinates them.

The program has been done since 1997 in an effort to prevent the westward movement of the rabies virus most often spread by raccoons by creating a barrier along the Appalachian Mountains from the Canadian border to Alabama.

Wildlife officials ask to leave the baits undisturbed in the wild. If a person comes in contact with a piece of bait, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap. If your pet has eaten several baits, the pet may experience vomiting or diarrhea that is self-limiting.

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