The Ohio Department of Health(ODH) has announced an oral rabies vaccine bait operation that is scheduled to begin in six eastern Ohio counties in May of 2019.

According to the Ohio Department of Health(ODH), in 1996, a new strain of rabies in wild raccoon was detected in northeastern Ohio. After those findings, the ODH and other state and local agencies teamed up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) and devised a program to immunize wild raccoons for rabies using an oral rabies vaccine.

The Ohio Department of Health reports that previous vaccination efforts have reduced cases of rabies found in animals and has prevented the spread of raccoon rabies into the rest of Ohio.

This year’s oral rabies vaccine bait operation is scheduled to begin on May 20. The program will target portions of six eastern Ohio counties: Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Mahoning, Stark and Tuscarawas. It is expected to take five days, weather permitting. The vaccine-laden baits are distributed in rural areas by fixed wing aircraft or low-flying helicopter. The baits are sometimes distributed by hand and from vehicles in urban neighborhoods.

ODH says that one type of bait will be used for the May 2019 operation. It is called the ONRAB vaccine. It is enclosed in a blister pack coated with an attractant of edible sweeteners such as icing sugar and artificial marshmallow. 

Although the intended target for these baits are raccoons, the ODH acknowledges that some baits may be distributed into residential yards and may be found by a pet or person. Dogs may be attracted to them. The ODH has information on its website explaining what to do if you or your pet finds a bait. Follow this link for more information .

If you have found a bait or have questions about this program, you can call the Ohio Department of Health Rabies Information Line at (614) 752-1387 or your local health department.