Planes and helicopters used for rabies bait drop in Columbiana County

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WYTV) – Rabies is a dangerous virus for pets and even humans, that’s why a couple of recent cases near our area have officials taking action.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture started dropping vaccines from planes and helicopters this week.

Rabies is a virus that’s transmitted through saliva into the blood stream. It eventually will attack a person or animal’s brain. Two recent cases of the virus in raccoons have pushed wildlife officials to be pro-active.

They were supposed to do a vaccination later this summer but decided to add another round right now.

Nearby counties are seeing an uptick already. Twice in the last four months, Stark County has reported two cases of raccoons with rabies.

As a precaution, Bob Hale and his team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture are taking to the air to drop bite-sized vaccinations for raccoons through Columbiana, Stark and Carroll counties.

The bait is about the size of a candy bar and gives off the smell of caramel.

“There is an attractant on the outside of it that the raccoons find and when they eat it, the vaccine goes in their mouth and orally vaccinates them,” Hale said.

More than 150,000 vaccines will be dropped over the next several days, covering more than 500 miles.

Hale says rabies, for the most part, is under control, but they want to stay ahead of it.

If you come across the rabies bait vaccine, just toss it back into the woods, but make sure you are wearing gloves and wash your hands immediately after.

Pets that come in contact with the vaccine may experience stomach upset, but it won’t seriously harm them.