FROM STAFF REPORTS
The Portage County Health District is alerting Portage County residents that the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Department of Natural Resources is conducting fall oral rabies vaccination operations through Sept. 11.
The annual bait distribution, done in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, started Aug. 22.
As in past years, bait distribution with the oral rabies vaccine Raboral V-RG° will take place in all of Columbiana, Jefferson and Mahoning counties and parts of Ashtabula, Belmont, Carroll, Harrison Monroe and Trumbull counties.
In addition, for the fifth consecutive year, a new oral rabies vaccine called ONRAB° will be field-tested in parts of Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties as part of a national trial involving five states.
Baits will be distributed by various methods in each county, including fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter and vehicles staffed by USDA and local health departments.
For Portage, baiting will be distributed by air only. Residents in the areas to be baited should be aware of low-flying aircraft and should keep children and pets away from the baits.
Dogs in particular are attracted to the baits and will occasionally eat them. The baits are not harmful to pets.
The ONRAB° vaccine will be distributed by vehicle in only three counties -- Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake -- and by aircraft in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Portage and Trumbull counties.
IT IS IN A blister pack about 1 by 2 inches and has a dark-green coloring and sweet-smelling waxy coating.
Instruct children to leave the baits alone.
The bait is not harmful to pets. Health officials recommend that once your area is baited residents should keep dogs and cats inside or on leashes for up to five days.
Most baits disappear within 24 hours; however, it is important raccoons have every opportunity to eat them.
Anyone handling baits should wear gloves. If baits are found in areas frequented by pets or children, toss them into deeper cover. Damaged baits can be disposed of in the trash.
If a person is exposed to the vaccine (liquid) within the bait, thoroughly wash any areas of the skin that came into contact with the vaccine with soap and water.
If someone has been exposed to the vaccine or has questions about the baiting, call the ORV information line at 888-RABIES1 (722-4371) or the Portage County Health District at 330-296-9919.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects animals and people and is still virtually 100 percent fatal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals.
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.
Rabies exposures in Portage County should be reported to the Portage County Health District at 330-296-9919.