ONRAB® oral rabies vaccine is shed from, but does not persist in, captive mammals

Vaccine. 2019 Jul 18;37(31):4310-4317. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2019.06.046. Epub 2019 Jun 24.


ONRAB® is a human adenovirus rabies glycoprotein recombinant vaccine developed to control rabies in wildlife. To support licensing and widespread use of the vaccine, safety studies are needed to assess its potential residual impact on wildlife populations. We examined the persistence of the ONRAB® vaccine virus in captive rabies vector and non-target mammals. This research complements work on important rabies vector species (raccoon, striped skunk, and red fox) but also adds to previous findings with the addition of some non-target species (Virginia opossum, Norway rats, and cotton rats) and a prolonged period of post vaccination monitoring (41 days). Animals were directly inoculated orally with the vaccine and vaccine shedding was monitored using quantitative real-time PCR applied to oral and rectal swabs. ONRAB® DNA was detected in both oral and rectal swabs from 6 h to 3 days post-inoculation in most animals, followed by a resurgence of shedding between days 17 and 34 in some species. Overall, the duration over which ONRAB® DNA was detectable was shorter for non-target mammals, and by day 41, no animal had detectable DNA in either oral or rectal swabs. All target species, as well as cotton rats and laboratory-bred Norway rats, developed robust humoral immune responses as measured by competitive ELISA, with all individuals being seropositive at day 31. Similarly, opossums showed good response (89% seropositive; 8/9), whereas only one of nine wild caught Norway rats was seropositive at day 31. These results support findings of other safety studies suggesting that ONRAB® does not persist in vector and non-target mammals exposed to the vaccine. As such, we interpret these data to reflect a low risk of adverse effects to wild populations following distribution of ONRAB® to control sylvatic rabies.

Keywords: Captive trials; Non-target; Quantitative PCR; Rabies vector; Safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Disease Reservoirs / virology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Foxes
  • Immunization
  • Immunogenicity, Vaccine*
  • Rabies / prevention & control*
  • Rabies / transmission
  • Rabies Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Rabies Vaccines / genetics
  • Rabies Vaccines / immunology*
  • Rabies virus / immunology*
  • Raccoons
  • Rats
  • Sigmodontinae
  • Vaccines, DNA / administration & dosage
  • Vaccines, DNA / genetics
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Rabies Vaccines
  • Vaccines, DNA