A second raccoon in Stark County's Paris Township has been tested and confirmed positive with raccoon rabies variant by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Stark County Department of Health reports.
The first raccoon had been confirmed positive on March 14 of this year. In most years, Stark County has a few cases of rabies in bats, but these are the first cases of raccoon rabies variant reported in the county to date. Health department officials said these cases signify an immediate potential threat of raccoon rabies spread into new areas of eastern and central Ohio.
RRV is a strain of rabies found in the eastern United States that has periodically spread into eastern Ohio. If established, this strain of rabies could lead to dramatic increases in rabies exposures to people and pets.
To protect Ohioans and their domestic animals, the Ohio Department of Health, local health departments and other agencies have partnered with government and other agencies to immunize wild raccoons for rabies using an oral rabies vaccine. Begun in 1997, the vaccination effort created a barrier of immune animals that reduced animal cases and prevented the spread of raccoon rabies into the rest of Ohio. Rabid raccoons collected in Paris Township, about five miles west of the ORV zone, represent the first breach of the ORV zone since a 2004 breach in Lake County.
The Stark County Health Department is working with agencies to perform enhanced surveillance sample collection near the areas where the rabid raccoon was found.
Since raccoons have a greater potential of interaction with domestic animals and pets, the Stark County Health Department has issued guidelines to protect people and pets against rabies:
Do not feed wild animals or leave food outside for animals to find;
Avoid contact with wild animals and keep children away from any unknown animals;
Keep pets vaccinated against rabies.
The Stark County Health Department will host a rabies vaccination clinic for dogs, cats and ferrets on Saturday, May 6, from 1-3 p.m. at the Stark County Fairgrounds in the Wildlife Building on the south side.
Cost is $10 per pet. Payment must be made in cash.
For more information about the recent raccoon cases or about rabies in general, contact the Stark County Health Department at 330-493-9904 extension 202 or the ODH Zoonotic Disease Program at 614-752-1029 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information regarding rabies, visit: https://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/bid/zdp/diseases/rabies.aspx.