Date of this Version
Pedersen, K., B.S. Schmit, T.J. DeLiberto, J.R. Suckow, A.J. Davis, D. Slate, R.B. Chipman, R.L. Hale, and A.T. Gilbert. 2018. Raccoon (Procyon lotor) biomarker and rabies antibody response to varying oral rabies vaccine bait densities in northwestern Pennsylvania. Heliyon 4(9):e00754. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00754
Distribution of oral rabies vaccine baits has been used as a strategy for managing rabies in the United States since the 1990s. Since that time, efforts have been made to improve baiting strategies with a focus on bait density to maximize both efficiency and cost effectiveness. An optimal rabies management strategy includes a vaccine bait preferred by the target species that is distributed at the minimal density needed to achieve population immunity to prevent rabies spread. The purpose of our pilot study was to examine the effect of 75, 150, and 300 baits/km2 vaccine bait densities on rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) seroprevalence in raccoons (Procyon lotor). Raboral V-RG_ fishmeal polymer baits (Merial Inc. (now a part of Boehringer Ingelheim), Athens, Georgia) contain a tetracycline biomarker that was used to estimate bait consumption as another measure of intervention impact. Our results suggest that raccoon RVNA response increases as bait density increases, but the effect may not be sufficient to justify the cost except in the case of contingency actions or an epizootic. Non-target species, especially opossums (Didelphis virginianus) in certain areas, should be considered when determining an appropriate bait density to ensure sufficient baits are available for consumption by the target species.