The Portage County Health Department, in conjunction with the Ohio Departments of Health and Natural Resources will conduct its fall oral rabies raccoon vaccination operation in Aurora and Streetsboro on Monday.
The baiting is done in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services program.
Portage County Health Department Environmental Services employees will manually distribute the vaccine which is enclosed in a 2-by-2-inch brown cube bait that has a fishy smell.
Residents should avoid the baits and keep pets confined during the baiting period. In particular, dogs are attracted to the baits and will occasionally eat them. The baits are not harmful to pets.
Most of the baits disappear within 24 hours; however it is important that raccoons have every opportunity to eat them.
Portage County Health Department Environmental Services employees make every effort to throw baits into deep brush and wooded areas.
If baits are found in areas frequented by pets or children, The department advises residents toss the baits into a remote area frequented by raccoons. Anyone handling baits should wear gloves or use a paper towel.
If a person's skin is exposed to the vaccine (appears as a red liquid), thoroughly wash hands with soap and water, the health department advises.
The operation is part of a National Oral Rabies Vaccination program, which as been conducted in Ohio and other states since 1997.
Vaccinating raccoons along Ohio's eastern border has successfully slowed the spread of Raccoon Rabies Variant (RRV) into Ohio from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The Portage County Health Department conducts this operation once each year.
Between Monday and Sept. 20, vaccine will also be dropped from low-flying U.S. Department of Agriculture airplanes. The air-dropped vaccine is in a dark green, sweet-smelling, waxy-coated blister pack approximately 1 by 2 inches in size.
The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals. Raccoons, skunks and bats are most often responsible for reported cases of rabies, but foxes and coyotes also commonly transmit the disease.
It is spread by a bite or a scratch. The best way to protect your family from rabies is to avoid contact with wild animals and animals that you don't know, and to vaccinate your pets against rabies and keep them current with their shots.
If bitten, call your doctor. Call your veterinarian if your pet has contact with a wild animal, according to the health department.
Rabies exposures in Portage County should be reported to the Portage County Health Department, 330-296-9919.
Questions about baiting and vaccine exposures may be directed to the ODH information hotline, 1-888-722-4371.