WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Every year, the USDA teams up with the Ohio Department of Health to drop rabies vaccine in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.
It’s important because rabies is a very serious condition in humans. Last month, the city of Warren reported two rabies positive raccoons. Because of that, more surveillance is being done and continued baiting is targeted there and in Mahoning County.
“This is the first time that we’ve had rabies within Warren in a number of years. We are really concerned about trying to get ahead of the disease before it potentially spreads much more rapidly in an area where we know there are high populations of raccoons,” said Jordana Kirby, a spokesperson for the USDA rabies management program.
Human exposures can be successfully treated if medical attention is sought immediately following exposure. If exposures to the virus are not treated, it is almost always fatal.
About 90% of rabies cases in the U.S. are in wildlife. People are urged not to contact or feed wildlife and to keep their pets’ rabies vaccination current.
While rabies is fatal in animals, it is 100% preventable and these rabies vaccine drops play a critical role in prevention.
The vaccine bait distribution will begin around October 12 and continue for approximately one week. People living in Warren and surrounding communities may see a low-flying aircraft (helicopter) dropping the baits and may see ground teams in vehicles distributing the baits by hand. This effort will distribute approximately 39,600 ORV baits by helicopter and 5,400 ORV baits by hand.
The baits have been shown to be safe for dogs and cats, but it’s important to keep your pets away from them and leave them undisturbed so wildlife will eat them. If you do come in contact with a rabies vaccine bait, immediately rinse the contact area with warm water and soap.
Everyone in these areas is asked to report any dead raccoons, including those struck by vehicles, or live raccoons acting in an unusual way. While seeing raccoons during the day in towns and suburbs is not unusual, any raccoon that appears to be friendly, unafraid, or sick (staggering, unsteady or aggressive) should be reported to 330-726-3386 or to your local county health department. USDA biologists or specialists will respond and remove the animal or carcass to test it for rabies.
Signs suggestive of rabies in animals include unusual, aggressive, calm, and “friendly” behavior, an inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma and finally death.
Rabies vaccine drops are also conducted in Columbiana County at different intervals.