Zoonotic Disease Program
Oral Rabies Vaccination
In 1997, a new strain of rabies in wild raccoons was introduced into Northeast Ohio from Pennsylvania. To protect Ohioans and their domestic animals, the Ohio Department of Health and other state and local agencies partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service, Wildlife Services to implement a program to immunize wild raccoons for rabies using an oral rabies vaccine (ORV).
This effort created a barrier of immune animals that reduced animal cases and prevented the spread of raccoon rabies into the rest of Ohio. The vaccine-laden baits are dropped by fixed wing aircraft or a low-flying helicopter in rural areas or distributed by hand and from vehicles in urban neighborhoods.
The 2012 ORV bait operation took place between August 24 and September 7, 2012. In all, about 770,000 vaccine-laden baits were distributed over 4,400 square miles in 14 northeastern Ohio counties (see map).
Three types of ORV baits were used. In urban communities, Raboral V-RG fishmeal block was delivered by vehicle. The Raboral V-RG sachet was dropped by aircraft in rural areas. In parts of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Summit and Portage counties, ONRAB vaccine were used.
The overall bait density ranged from one ORV bait per 1.5 acres to one ORV bait per 3 acres. Although placement is targeted to raccoon habitat, it is inevitable that some baits may end up in a yard or be found by a pet or person. Dogs, in particular, are attracted to them.
What if my pet eats the bait?
A few baits are not harmful, although eating a lot may cause vomiting or diarrhea.
- Do not risk being bitten by taking bait away from your pet
- Confine your pet for a couple of days, and check the area for more baits. Most baits are gone within four days
- Avoid your pet's saliva for 24 hours, and wash skin or wounds that may have been licked
What if I find a rabies bait?
Baits should be left alone – but intact baits can be moved if they are found where children and pets play. Damaged baits should be bagged and disposed in the trash.
- Wear gloves or use a paper towel when picking up the bait
- Toss intact baits into a fence row, woodlot, ditch or other raccoon habitat area
- Wash your hands well with soap and water after any skin contact with damaged bait
Contact with intact baits is not harmful. Persons who are immunocompromised, pregnant or have eczema may be at risk of a reaction if vaccine gets into a mucous membrane or open wound.
If you have found a bait or have questions, call the Ohio Department of Health Rabies Information Line at (614) 752-1387 or your local health department.
Raboral V-RG coated sachet rabies vaccine bait distributed by aircraft in rural areas.
Raboral V-RG fishmeal polymer rabies vaccine bait distributed by vehicle and helicopter in urban areas.
ONRAB vaccine to be used in parts of Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga, Summit and Portage counties.
For more information:
Ohio Oral Rabies Vaccination Program At-A-Glance
Questions and Answers: Rabies and Oral Rabies Vaccination
FAQ about the ORV Program 2012 ONRAB Field Trials
USDA APHIS Wildlife Services National Rabies Program
Last updated: 11/07/2012
Zoonotic Diseases / Rabies Program