In an effort to curb rabies in raccoons, skunks, coyotes and other wild animals, the Ohio Departments of Health and Natural Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and local health departments in Cuyahoga, Summit and Portage counties are now in the midst of their fall raccoon rabies vaccination baiting program. The “baits” are vaccines coated with fishmeal, that are meant to attract wild animals and immunize them against rabies. The baiting began August 29 and will continue through October 3.
Two types of bait are being used. Aerial baits (dropped from airplanes) are encased in plastic, about the size of a ketchup packet. The ground bait (distributed by workers on the ground) is a 2-by-2-inch block of fishmeal. (see photos)
Bait is being distributed in Twinsburg Township, Reminderville, Northfield Center, Macedonia, Sagamore Hills, Boston Township, Boston Heights, Peninsula, and Hudson, north of Route 303. Aerial bait drops will be over rural areas in Portage County and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Summit County. Although the baits are not to be dropped over residential areas, many people live around area parks, and youmay find baits in your yard or neighborhood parks.
The vaccine is not harmful to pets, but people should keep children and pets away from the baits.If you happen to come across a bait, please leave it alone. If the bait has to be moved because it is in an area where children or pets play, put on a pair of gloves or use a paper towel to pick up the bait and move it to a wooded area, a ditch or any other area that may attract raccoons. You should always wash your hands after handling a bait, especially if you get any of the red liquid on you.
Don’t panic if your pet eats any of the baits. A few baits are not harmful, though eating a large number may cause your pet to have an upset stomach.
Detailed information on the history of this baiting program is available on the Ohio Department of Health’s web site.
For more information about the baiting, or exposure to the vaccine, call the Ohio Department of Health’s hotline at 1-888-722-4371. You can also contact the Cuyahoga County Board of Health at (216)201-2000 with any general questions related to the local bait distribution.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health reminds you to:
- Avoid feeding or approaching wildlife while at a park or in the woods,
- Vaccinate your companion animals against the rabies virus, and
- Educate your children to stay away from wildlife and remind them not to attempt to help or to pick-up injured animals.