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Objective

To determine effectiveness of large-scale distribution of an oral rabies vaccine contained in a palatable bait for halting expansion of a canine rabies epizootic in coyotes (Canis latrans).

Design

Prospective study.

Animals

98 coyotes during prevaccination surveillance and 449 coyotes and 60 other wild animals during postvaccination surveillance.

Procedure

A vaccinia recombinant oral rabies vaccine was inserted into an edible bait for coyotes that also contained tetracycline as a biomarker. Vaccine units were then distributed via aircraft, using automated distribution equipment and flight plans developed by incorporating global positioning system equipment. The target area was along the northern edge of an area that had an epizootic of canine rabies. This area was identified through previously conducted epidemiologic surveillance of rabies cases. During postvaccination surveillance, dental specimens were examined for biomarker evidence of bait acceptance, and serum samples were analyzed for rabies neutralizing antibodies.

Results

Samples from 449 coyotes were obtained during postvaccination surveillance. Seroconversion was detected in 39 of 96 (40.6%) coyotes that had evidence of tetracycline biomarker. Additionally, the number of rabies cases in the target area decreased, and expansion of the epizootic area ceased.

Clinical Implications

Mass distribution of an oral rabies vaccine in a palatable bait is an effective means to halt expansion of a rabies epizootic involving coyotes. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998; 212:498-502)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the effectiveness of intervention efforts to halt 2 wildlife rabies epizootics from 1995 through 2003, including 9 oral rabies vaccination campaigns for coyotes and 8 oral rabies vaccination campaigns for gray foxes.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—98 coyotes during prevaccination surveillance and 963 coyotes and 104 nontarget animals during postvaccination surveillance in south Texas, and 699 gray foxes and 561 nontarget animals during postvaccination surveillance in west-central Texas.

Procedures—A recombinant-virus oral rabies vaccine in edible baits was distributed by aircraft for consumption by coyotes and gray foxes. Bait acceptance was monitored by use of microscopic analysis of tetracycline biomarker in upper canine teeth and associated bone structures in animals collected for surveillance. Serologic responses were monitored by testing sera for rabies virus–neutralizing antibodies by use of the rapid fluorescent focus inhibition test. The incidence of rabies in the distribution area was recorded via active and passive surveillance activities; tracking of rabies virus variants in confirmed rabid animals was used to determine the number and type of rabies cases before and after distributions of the vaccine.

Results—The expansion of both epizootics was halted as a result of the vaccine bait program. The number of laboratory-confirmed rabid animals attributable to the domestic dog-coyote rabies virus variant in south Texas declined to 0, whereas the number of laboratory- confirmed rabid animals attributable to the Texas fox rabies virus variant in west-central Texas decreased.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Data indicated that oral rabies vaccination resulted in protective immunity in a sufficient percentage of the target wildlife population to preclude propagation of the disease and provided an effective means of controlling rabies in these species. ( J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:785–792)

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association