Portage County announces rabies baiting Aug. 20

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The Portage County Health Department, in conjunction with the Ohio Departments of Health and Natural Resources, and in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services program, will conduct its fall oral rabies raccoon vaccination operation in the cities of Aurora and Streetsboro Aug. 20.

This operation is part of a National Oral Rabies Vaccination program, which as been conducted in Ohio and other states since 1997. Vaccinating raccoons along Ohio's eastern border has successfully slowed the spread of Raccoon Rabies Variant into Ohio from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Portage County Health Department conducts this operation once each year.

Portage County Health Department Environmental Services employees will manually distribute the vaccine.

Portage County Health Department Environmental Services employees will try to throw baits into deep brush and wooded areas. If baits are found in areas frequented by pets or children, toss the baits into a remote area that is frequented by raccoons. Anyone handling baits should wear gloves or use a paper towel. If a person's skin is exposed to the vaccine, thoroughly wash hands with soap and water.

Between Aug. 25 and Sept. 5, vaccine also will be dropped from low-flying U.S. Department of Agriculture airplanes. The air-dropped vaccine is in a dark green, sweet-smelling, waxy-coated blister pack approximately 1 by 2 inches in size.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects animals and people and is still nearly 100 percent fatal. The rabies virus is found in the saliva of infected animals. Raccoons, skunks and bats are most often responsible for spreading rabies, but foxes and coyotes also commonly transmit the disease. It is spread by a bite or a scratch. Rabies exposures in Portage County should be reported to the Portage County Health Department by calling 330-296-9919.

Questions about baiting and vaccine exposures may be directed to the ODH information hotline, 1-888-722-4371.

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