Beginning Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services, in collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health, will begin distributing rabies vaccine baits in parts of Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
USDA continues to seek the public’s help as it works to determine the frequency of rabies in eastern Ohio raccoons. Anyone who encounters a raccoon that is sick-acting or behaving unusually is asked to report the animal.
The city of Warren reported two rabies-positive raccoons in September. As a result, increased surveillance and continued baiting in Trumbull and Mahoning counties are underway.
The baiting will use an oral rabies vaccine bait called RABORAL V-RG, which consists of a small bait packet filled with the vaccine and coated with fishmeal.
The baits may be distributed by helicopter or by vehicles within city limits.
This ORV bait has been shown to be safe in many species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them.
If contact with baits occurs, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap, a news release states.
The targeted ORV bait distribution will continue for approximately one week.
Residents of Warren and surrounding communities may see a helicopter dropping the baits and may observe ground baiting teams in vehicles distributing the baits by hand. This effort will distribute approximately 39,600 ORV baits by helicopter and 5,400 ORV baits by hand.
The public is asked to report any dead raccoons, including those struck by vehicles, or live raccoons acting in an unusual way. While seeing raccoons during the day in towns and suburbs is not unusual, any raccoon that appears to be friendly, unafraid or sick (staggering, unsteady or aggressive) should be reported to 330-726-3386 or to your local county health department. USDA biologists or specialists will respond and remove the animal or carcass to test it for rabies.
Signs suggestive of rabies include unusual, aggressive, calm and “friendly” behavior, an inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma and finally death.
Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals and represents a serious public health concern. Human exposures can be successfully remedied if medical attention is sought immediately after exposure.
If exposure to the virus is not treated, it is almost always fatal.
Photos of the ORV project, can be viewed here.
For more information about the National Rabies Management Program, click here.