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Oral Rabies Vaccination

In 1997, a new strain of rabies in wild raccoons was introduced into northeastern 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.

In response to a rabies positive raccoon collected in southeastern Stark County on Feb, 28, 2017 and a second rabies positive raccoon collected on Apr, 4, 2017 also in Stark County, both outside the ORV zone where no previous raccoon variant rabies cases have been found, a spring ORV campaign is being held.  The 2017 ORV bait operation will take place between May 22 and May 26, 2017 and will cover 539 square miles in 3 northeastern Ohio counties (see map).

Only one type of ORV bait will be used.  ONRAB vaccine will be distributed by fixed wing aircraft in rural areas and by helicopter in urban and suburban areas.  It has proven to be effective in ORV campaigns to eliminate raccoon rabies in Canada.  The baits consist of a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) blister pack that contains the ONRAB rabies vaccine.  To make the baits attractive, the blister packs are coated with a sweet attractant that includes vegetable-based fats, wax, icing sugar, vegetable oil, artificial marshmallow flavor, and dark-green food-grade dye.

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.  Please see below information if you or your pet find baits.


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) 752-1029 or your local health department.

Coated Sachet Bait  Fishmeal Polymer Bait  ONRAB Bait


Oral rabies vaccination resources:

 

Last Updated:  05/17/2017

Zoonotic Disease Program