The Ohio Department of Health will begin the annual fall oral rabies vaccination operations Friday in 14 northeast Ohio counties including Columbiana, Mahoning, and Trumbull.

The bait will cover 4,825 square miles and should be completed by September 3.

The release says approximately 800,000 baits will be dropped by helicopter and ground vehicles.

Twelve animals were confirmed to have rabies last year in Ohio. They were found in Carroll, Mahoning, Trumbull, and Tuscarawas counties.

Two dogs that encountered the infected raccoon are in quarantine for 180 days because they were not up to date on their rabies vaccine

Two other confirmed rabies cases have occurred in Tuscawaras and Ashtabula counties.

A raccoon found in Boardman tested positive for rabies last Friday.

Residents should be aware of low-flying aircraft and keep pets and children away from the rabies bait.

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 the 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.
  • Try to 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 of 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 thoroughly with soap and water after any skin contact with damaged baits.

Contact with intact baits is not harmful.  Persons who are immunocompromised or pregnant may be at risk of a reaction if the bait ruptures and vaccine gets into a mucous membrane or open wound.  If a person is exposed to the vaccine (liquid) within the bait, thoroughly wash any areas of the exposed skin with soap and warm water.