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  • Author or Editor: Susan M. Moore x
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Objective—To evaluate the humoral immune response of Asian elephants to a primary IM vaccination with either 1 or 2 doses of a commercially available inactivated rabies virus vaccine and evaluate the anamnestic response to a 1-dose booster vaccination.

Animals—16 captive Asian elephants.

Procedures—Elephants with no known prior rabies vaccinations were assigned into 2 treatment groups of 8 elephants; 1 group received 1 dose of vaccine, and the other group received 2 doses of vaccine 9 days apart. All elephants received one or two 4-mL IM injections of a monovalent inactivated rabies virus vaccine. Blood was collected prior to vaccination (day 0) and on days 9, 35, 112, and 344. All elephants received 1 booster dose of vaccine on day 344, and a final blood sample was taken 40 days later (day 384). Serum was tested for rabies virus–neutralizing antibodies by use of the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test.

Results—All elephants were seronegative prior to vaccination. There were significant differences in the rabies geometric mean titers between the 2 elephant groups at days 35, 112, and 202. Both groups had a strong anamnestic response 40 days after the booster given at day 344.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results confirmed the ability of Asian elephants to develop a humoral immune response after vaccination with a commercially available monovalent inactivated rabies virus vaccine and the feasibility of instituting a rabies virus vaccination program for elephants that are in frequent contact with humans. A 2-dose series of rabies virus vaccine should provide an adequate antibody response in elephants, and annual boosters should maintain the antibody response in this species.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research