Date of this Version
Elmore SA, Chipman RB, Slate D, Huyvaert KP, VerCauteren KC, Gilbert AT (2017) Management and modeling approaches for controlling raccoon rabies: The road to elimination. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(3): e0005249.
Rabies is an ancient viral disease that significantly impacts human and animal health throughout the world. In the developing parts of the world, dog bites represent the highest risk of rabies infection to people, livestock, and other animals. However, in North America, where several rabies virus variants currently circulate in wildlife, human contact with the raccoon rabies variant leads to the highest per capita population administration of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) annually. Previous rabies variant elimination in raccoons (Canada), foxes (Europe), and dogs and coyotes (United States) demonstrates that elimination of the raccoon variant from the eastern US is feasible, given an understanding of rabies control costs and benefits and the availability of proper tools. Also critical is a cooperatively produced strategic plan that emphasizes collaborative rabies management among agencies and organizations at the landscape scale. Common management strategies, alone or as part of an integrated approach, include the following: oral rabies vaccination (ORV), trapvaccinate- release (TVR), and local population reduction. As a complement, mathematical and statistical modeling approaches can guide intervention planning, such as through contact networks, circuit theory, individual-based modeling, and others, which can be used to better understand and predict rabies dynamics through simulated interactions among the host, virus, environment, and control strategy. Strategies derived from this ecological lens can then be optimized to produce a management plan that balances the ecological needs and program financial resources. This paper discusses the management and modeling strategies that are currently used, or have been used in the past, and provides a platform of options for consideration while developing raccoon rabies virus elimination strategies in the US.