Lake County: Battle against rabies continues

9:55 AM, Sep 3, 2012   |    comments
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LAKE COUNTY, Ohio -- This week, state health officials will continue their fall campaign against rabies.

Workers have been canvassing wooded areas, tossing vaccine baits into the brush. This year, there's a new type of bait and anyone spending time outside needs to know what to look out for.

There's a lot of ground to cover, so they're heading out by car, on foot and by air, spreading what's considered a tasty treat -- to a racoon.

The Lake County Health Department has spent the last week distributing a new type of rabies vaccination bait.

Unlike the previous fishy-smelling blocks with vaccine inside, these sweet-smelling blister packs are attractive to skunks and coyotes too.

Lake County is among a few in the nation testing the new bait, considered more effective on the main carriers of rabies: Raccoons.

"We think that there might be a bumper crop of raccoons and maybe some other wild animals just due to the mild winter and the availability of food," said Nancy Niehus from the Lake County Health Department. 

Pet owners like Judy Miles are always looking out for whatever wildlife nearby.

"I see at least two [raccoons] a day," Miles said, "because he likes to chase animals and I'm afraid one might chase him back."

People, especially pet owners, need to know what to do if they come across one of these baits.

They are non-toxic, but every time someone comes in contact, they should wash their hands right away and call the number on the back.

If your dog eats one, let them have it so you don't touch the vaccine.

If left untreated, rabies is almost always deadly, so the hope of prevention comes with every toss of the bait.

"We've significantly reduced the numbers of wild animals in Northeast Ohio that have been rabid and it's because of efforts like this," Niehus said. 

Last year, there were 12 cases of rabies in Northeast Ohio wildlife and one dog in Summit county.

So far this year, two positive cases were reported our area.


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