Date of this Version
Caribbean Journal of Science, Vol. 48, No. 1, 52-58, 2014.
The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) is the primary rabies vector in Puerto Rico. Mongooses are implicated in up to 74% of rabies cases on the island, and pose a threat to domestic animals and human health and safety. No rabies management program exists in Puerto Rico and development of an oral rabies vaccination program requires determining which flavors on the vaccine’s bait coating matrix that are attractive to mongooses. Our objective was to evaluate preference among three flavors (cheese, coconut and fish) in the Ultralite bait matrix that is used for delivery of Rabies Vaccine, Live Adenovirus Vector (ONRAB®). Placebo baits were offered to free-ranging mongooses in two different ecological environments. The study was conducted at El Yunque National Forest and Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. At each site we established bait stations with three bait flavors offered simultaneously. We placed a remote camera at each station to monitor bait fate. Cheese ranked higher than fish flavor (W = 1473, P = 0.0273) and cheese and fish both ranked significantly higher than coconut (W = 2180.5, P < 0.0001 and W = 2065.0, P = 0.0008, respectively). These results suggest cheese and fish flavors should perform better than coconut flavor in attracting free-ranging mongooses to consume ONRAB® baits in Puerto Rico.