RABIES MONITORING PROGRAM
However, for reasons not entirely known, there were increases in the number of positive raccoon cases in 2004 (44 cases) and 2005 (34 cases) - all in northeastern Ohio, and all outside the established baiting boundary that includes the eastern Ohio counties from Ashtabula south to the Ohio River. In 2005, and continuing to date, the Ohio Department of Health extended its surveillance and baiting area programs into eastern Cuyahoga and northern Summit and Portage counties. Currently, Medina County is not in the extended baiting area but may be included if additional cases are found near the extended boundaries.
The extended vaccination areas appear to have been effective as raccoon rabies cases dropped dramatically with 34 cases in 2005, 10 cases in 2006, 11 cases in 2007, 5 cases in 2008, and one case in 2009. Positive rabies statistics for Ohio in 2009 totaled 47 cases, with 43 bats, one raccoon, and 3 skunks.
In Medina County, we are continuing our raccoon surveillance activities with no positive cases reported to date. For more information on Rabies, feel free to contact us or visit the Ohio Department of Health website.
Bats and Rabies
Most of the recent human rabies cases in the United States have been caused by rabies virus from bats. Awareness of the facts about bats and rabies can help people protect themselves, their families, and their pets. This information may also help clear up misunderstandings about bats.
When people think about bats, they often imagine things that are not true. Bats are not blind. They are neither rodents nor birds. They will not suck your blood and most do not have rabies. Bats play key roles in ecosystems around the globe, from rain forests to deserts, especially by eating insects, including agricultural pests. The best protection we can offer these unique mammals is to learn more about their habits and recognize the value of living safely with them.
Rabies can be confirmed only in a laboratory. However, any bat that is active by day, is found in a place where bats are not usually seen (for example, in a room in your home or on the lawn), or is unable to fly, is far more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often the most easily approached. Therefore, it is best never to handle any bat.
What should I do if I come in contact with a bat?
If you are bitten by a bat, or if infectious material (such as saliva) from a bat gets into your eyes, nose, mouth, or a wound, wash the affected area thoroughly and get medical advice immediately. Whenever possible, the bat should be captured and sent to a laboratory for rabies testing (read below for information on how you can safely capture a bat in your home).
People usually know when they have been bitten by a bat. However because bats have small teeth which may leave marks that are not easily seen, there are situations in which you should seek medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite wound. For example, if you awaken and find a bat in your room, see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or see a bat near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, seek medical advice and have the bat tested.
What is a rabies exposure?
(Source: Ohio Department of Health Zoonotic Disease Program Case Records 1980-Present)
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