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. 2016 Sep 14;34(40):4792-8.
doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2016.08.021. Epub 2016 Aug 16.

Feasibility and Efficacy of Oral Rabies Vaccine SAG2 in Endangered Ethiopian Wolves


Feasibility and Efficacy of Oral Rabies Vaccine SAG2 in Endangered Ethiopian Wolves

Claudio Sillero-Zubiri et al. Vaccine. .


Diseases are a major cause of population declines in endangered populations of several canid species. Parenteral vaccination efforts to protect Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) from rabies have targeted the domestic dog reservoir, or the wolves themselves in response to confirmed outbreaks. Oral vaccination offers a more cost-efficient, safe and proactive approach to protect Ethiopian wolves and other threatened canids from rabies. Field trials of the oral vaccine Rabigen® SAG2Dog were undertaken in the Bale Mountains of southeastern Ethiopia. Four different bait types and three delivery methods were tested in twelve Ethiopian wolf packs, and the oral vaccine (using the preferred bait) was trialled in three packs. Vaccine uptake and immunization rates were measured through direct observations and in live-trapped animals through the assessment of biomarker levels and serological status. Commercial baits were never taken by wolves; goat meat baits had the highest uptake, compared to rodent and intestine baits. Targeted delivery from horseback and nocturnal delivery within a pack's territory performed favourably compared to random bait distribution. Bait uptake by non-target species was lowest during the nocturnal blind distribution. Of 21 wolves trapped after vaccination, 14 were positive for the biomarker iophenoxic acid (i.e. ingested the bait and most likely pierced the sachet with the vaccine). Of these, 86% (n=12/14) had levels considered sufficient to provide protective immunity to wildlife (⩾0.20IU/ml), and 50% (n=7/14) demonstrated antibody titres above the universally recognised threshold (⩾0.5IU/ml) -the baseline average was 0.09IU/ml (n=12 wolves). All but one of the wolves vaccinated in 2014 were alive 14months later. Our trials confirm the potential for SAG2, delivered in a goat meat bait, to effectively protect Ethiopian wolves against rabies, supporting the initiative for a more efficient and proactive approach to manage and eventually eliminate rabies in Ethiopian wolf populations.

Keywords: Bait; Biomarker; Sero-conversion; Vaccine; Wildlife rabies.

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