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 (USDA)-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, trappers, 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 2014 ORV Baiting Program

As part of this year’s ORV program, USDA-Wildlife Services will be overseeing a third round of U.S. field trials 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 220,000 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 710,000 baits will be distributed in Ohio.

How many ORV baits will be distributed in Cuyahoga County?

Nearly 4,500 baits will be distributed by Metroparks staff throughout the North Chagrin, South Chagrin, Bedford and Brecksville Reservations. CCBH staff will begin our local baiting campaign on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.  Approximately 20,500 baits will be distributed throughout a total of 15 communities in eastern Cuyahoga County. This is a significant decrease from the 57,000 baits that were distributed in 2013 throughout a total of 36 communities in our county. Through the use of ORV, an effective trap-vaccinate-release program, and other management strategies the number of rabies cases in terrestrial animals in this area has been reduced to zero, with the last case occurring in Lake County in 2011. As a result of this success, a portion of our typical ORV zone in northeastern Ohio has been reduced by approximately 31% in 2014. Communities including Cleveland, Shaker Hts., and those in the I-77 corridor will no longer be receiving ORV baits.

As we hopefully move toward rabies elimination, ORV zones will continually be adapted and may be reduced or increased in size depending on the number of rabies cases. Enhanced rabies surveillance will remain critical in areas where ORV zones have been removed. It will be extremely important for trappers, animal control officers and the general public to remain vigilant in reporting strange or sick-acting suspect wildlife.

When will the baiting take place this year?

The CCBH ORV Baiting Schedule by community is provided in the first link below. We hope to complete this year's ground baiting in three days (August 27 - 29). 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. 

What should I do if someone in my family or my pet finds a bait?

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 ext. 1241 or Rick Novickis, Deputy Director, at (216) 201-2000 ext. 1208 with any questions or concerns.  

ORV Program Links & Documents

2014 ORV Baiting Schedule for Communities
2014 Baiting Zone Map by Bait Type
2014 ORV Program - General Information
2014 ORV Baiting Notice Poster
Raccoon Rabies Brochure
Human Bait Contact Flow Chart for V-RG Baits
Human Bait Contact Flow Chart for ONRAB Baits
Pet Bait Contact Flow Chart
2014 ONRAB Field Trial FAQ Document
Ohio ONRAB Field Trial Talking Points
Memo from Ohio Dept. of Health to Hospital Infection Control Personnel
Letter from Ohio Dept. of Health to Veterinarians & Physicians
Raboral V-RG Bait Material Safety Data Sheet
Raboral V-RG Coated Sachet Material Safety Data Sheet
ONRAB Bait Material Safety Data Sheet

Contact Information

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

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