Rabies baiting begins this weekend in Valley - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Rabies baiting begins this weekend in Valley

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is asking people to report dead raccoons or those behaving in an unusual way as they prepare to drop rabies bait in the Valley.

The USDA and the Ohio Department of Health will begin distributing rabies vaccine baits in eastern Ohio starting this Saturday.

The agencies are asking for the public’s help as it works to determine the frequency of rabies in raccoons.

Anyone who sees a dead raccoon or one that is sick-acting or behaving unusually is asked to report the animal.

Increased surveillance and continued vaccine baiting in eastern Ohio is underway because of rabies-positive animals reported from Stark County during 2017.

A total of 4 raccoons tested positive for the raccoon variant, or variety, of rabies in Stark County during the spring and summer of 2017, where it was not previously reported.

The vaccine baiting will use an oral rabies vaccine bait, called ONRAB, which consists of a blister pack filled with the vaccine and coated with a sweet attractant.

The USDA says ONRAB has been safely distributed in parts of Ohio since 2012 as part of ongoing field trials to evaluate the safety and immune effects of the ORV bait in raccoons and skunks.

The vaccine baits may be distributed using fixed-wing aircraft or by helicopter.

The ONRAB vaccine will be distributed in Carroll, Columbiana, and Stark counties for a second consecutive year to determine how effectively it can control the disease in an active outbreak area.

The spring ORV bait distribution will begin around May 19 and continue through approximately May 24 in portions of Carroll, Columbiana, Mahoning, Stark, and Tuscarawas counties.

Residents of Alliance, Canton, East Canton, Malvern, Minerva, Sebring, and Waynesburg may see low-flying aircraft (planes and helicopters) dropping the baits.

They will distribute approximately 155,000 baits.

The effort will be repeated in August 2018 as part of a larger rabies baiting project.

According to the USDA, the ONRAB bait has been shown to be safe in many species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the ORV baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them.

If contact with the vaccine bait occurs, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap.

The public in these areas is asked to report any dead raccoons, including those struck by vehicles, or live raccoons acting in an unusual way.

In towns and suburbs, seeing raccoons during the day is not unusual. Any raccoon, however, that appears to be friendly, unafraid, or sick (staggering, unsteady or aggressive) should be reported by calling 330-726-3386 or your local county health department.

Mahoning County District Board of Health 330-270-2855

Trumbull County Board of Health 330-675-2489

Columbiana County General Health District 330-424-0272

USDA biologists or specialists will respond and remove the animal or carcass to test it for rabies.

Signs suggestive of rabies include unusual, aggressive or calm and “friendly” behavior, an inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma and finally death.

While rabies is fatal, it is also 100% preventable. Human exposures can be successfully remedied if medical attention is sought immediately following exposure.

Rabies is caused by a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals and represents a serious public health concern. If exposures to the virus are not treated it is almost always fatal.

Costs associated with detection, prevention. and control of rabies exceeds $300 million annually in the U.S.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of reported rabies cases in the U.S. are in wildlife.

People are urged not to make contact with or feed wildlife and to keep their pets’ and livestock rabies vaccinations current.

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