USDA APHIS, ODH to distribute oral rabies vaccine

Beginning on or around May 20, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services Program, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and several Ohio local health departments (LHDs), will begin distributing an oral rabies vaccine (ORV) to immunize wild raccoons. Baiting will occur in Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Mahoning, Stark and Tuscarawas counties. Contingent on good weather, the operation should be completed on May 25.

Clients may call you concerning an ORV bait that they or their pet has found. Although the chance for an exposure incident is considered remote, we want you to be familiar with the product and know what to look for in your patients in the event of a vaccine exposure.

One rabies vaccine formulation, ONRAB® (Artemis Technologies), will be distributed this spring. A second baiting operation will occur in the fall; additional information regarding the fall baiting will be distributed later this summer.

About ONRAB®

ONRAB “Ultralite” Bait (click to enlarge)
  • ONRAB® is a recombinant rabies vaccine, utilizing a live human adenovirus type 5 as the vaccine vector. It does not contain live rabies virus.
  • The vaccine is contained in a blister pack, covered in a waxy green coating comprised of vegetable fats, wax and a sugar vanilla attractant. 
  • The vaccine itself contains Polymyxin B sulphate (15 Units/ml) and Neomycin sulphate (15 Units/ml). The attractant coating contains ~100mg of Tetracycline hydrochloride (biomarker). 
  • ONRAB® has been used successfully in Canada since 2006 and experimentally in the U.S. since 2011 with no reports of adverse incidents in humans. Ohio is one of five states using ONRAB for baiting operations in the U.S. 
  • Most people have acquired immunity to adenovirus type 5 in early childhood, but persons who are pregnant or immunocompromised may be susceptible to a cold-like infection if the vaccine is introduced into a wound or eye or is ingested. Exposure may result in fever, sore throat, headache, or conjunctivitis. 
  • Pets that consume multiple baits may experience vomiting or diarrhea that is self-limiting.

There is no exposure risk in handling an intact bait. As a precaution, however, always recommend that people wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling any rabies vaccine bait.

Recommendations for people who find ORV baits

  • Do not attempt to remove an ORV bait from an animal’s mouth, as you could be bitten. Ingesting the vaccine will not harm your pet, though vomiting and/or diarrhea (caused by the plastic sachets and coating, respectively) have occurred in dogs that ingested multiple baits.
  • Confine your pet before returning to the area to look for other baits. You can remove additional baits from any places where your pet could find and eat them. The baits can be moved to another location that is less accessible to people and pets or can be sealed in a zipper bag and thrown away.
  • Although there is no harm in touching undamaged baits, it is recommended that you wear gloves or use a paper towel to pick up a bait, especially if you have open cuts or wounds on your hands. Doing so will protect you against an unknown exposure to vaccine in the event the bait is damaged.
  • After handling the baits, wash your hands and any exposed skin thoroughly with soap and water if there is any chance that the vaccine sachet has been ruptured and its contents have gotten on exposed skin. 
  • If the vaccine comes in contact with your skin, mucous membrane or eyes, or if you have exposed breaks in skin, are pregnant, or are immunocompromised, monitor your condition after exposure. If you experience a rash, fever, sore throat, headache, conjunctivitis, vomiting, or diarrhea within 21 days of the exposure, seek medical attention.

In the event of human or pet contact with the bait/vaccine, have the caller contact ODH at 614-752-1387. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in this important public health effort.

Notice submitted by:
Amber Singh, DVM MPH
Public Health Veterinarian
Zoonotic Disease Program
Bureau of Infectious Diseases

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