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Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) Program

Since the emergence of raccoon strain rabies in Northeast Ohio in 2004, CCBH has been collaborating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture -Division of Wildlife Services and the Ohio Department of Health to prevent further spread of the disease throughout the state.

In an effort to vaccinate the wild raccoon population, an Oral Rabies Vaccine (ORV) is distributed by CCBH in many of the communities on the eastern side of the county each year. In Cuyahoga County, the majority of the baits are distributed by hand, while aerial distribution is utilized in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and many other more rural parts of the State. The distribution of ORV in Cuyahoga County is typically scheduled to be completed in 7-10 days. 

Enhanced surveillance allows us to test target species for rabies to help in evaluating the success of the ORV program and to make determinations about where future efforts should be made. Animal Control Officers, Police Officers and the general public routinely provide specimens that include raccoons, skunks, foxes and coyotes. These animals were either observed as acting in a strange manner, exhibiting signs of illness, identified as nuisance animals or were found as recent road kills. These specimens are submitted to the USDA for rabies testing.

Fall 2013 ORV Baiting Program

As part of this year’s ORV program, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be overseeing a field study to evaluate the effectiveness of the ONRAB® oral rabies vaccine, that has so far proven to be more effective in vaccinating wild animals against the virus.  Approximately 270,000 baits containing the ONRAB® oral rabies vaccine will be distributed in portions of northeast Ohio by fixed wing aircraft, helicopter, and by ground means. The baits contain a rabies vaccine that if consumed by a raccoon, should vaccinate the animal against the rabies virus. ONRAB® does not contain rabies virus, but a gene from the rabies virus that causes raccoons and skunks that eat the baits to produce antibodies that protect them against the virus. Along with the ONRAB vaccine field trial, thousands of V-RG fish meal polymer baits will be distributed throughout 14 eastern Ohio counties. These fish meal baits have effectively been used in Ohio for many years. A total of 760,000 baits will be distributed in Ohio.

CCBH staff will begin the local baiting campaign on Wednesday, August 28, 2013.  Nearly 57,000 baits will be distributed throughout a total of 36 communities in Cuyahoga County. This includes the baits that will be distributed throughout Cleveland and Shaker Hts. by their respective health departments. We will contact the local police dispatcher and the Service Department the morning of the scheduled baiting in each community to remind them of our presence in the community that day. 

If you happen to find one of the baits, please pick it up carefully using a towel or glove, and place it into a nearby habitat that may be frequented by either raccoons or skunks.  If you touch the bait with your hands, it is recommended that you wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water and call the telephone number listed on the bait or the Board of Health for further instructions. This vaccine has been shown to be safe in many species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.  Eating a large number of baits may cause a temporarily upset stomach in your pet but does not pose a long-term health risk.  Do not attempt to remove a bait from your pet's mouth; doing so may cause you to be bitten and result in a vaccine exposure.  It is also recommended to contact a veterinarian as a precaution if your pet has consumed vaccine baits.

Detailed information on the ORV Program is provided in the links and documents below. Please feel free to contact Joe Lynch, Program Manager at (216)201-2000 x-1241 or Rick Novickis, Supervisor, at (216)201-2000 x-1208 with any questions or concerns.  

ORV Program Links

2013 Fall ORV Baiting Schedule for Communities in CCBH Health Jurisdiction

Ohio Department of Health ORV Program Information

US Dept. of Agriculture Rabies Management Program Overview

2013 ORV Program "At-a-Glance" Document

2013 Ohio ORV Baiting Map

ORV Program Baiting Poster For Communities

ORV Program - ONRAB Field Trial Information 

Letter from the Ohio Dept. of Health to Local Veterinarians

Memo from the Ohio Dept. of Health to Hospital Personnel

Contact Information

Joe Lynch, RS, MPH
Program Manager
(216)201-2000 ext 1241

Rick Novickis, RS, MPH
Deputy Director
(216)201-2000 ext 1208