U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 56(2), 2020, pp. 452–456

DOI: 10.7589/2019-03-077


US govt


The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) is a rabies reservoir in areas of the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, but no rabies vaccination program targeting this host exists. We used two derivatives of iophenoxic acid (IPA) to evaluate placebo oral rabies vaccine bait uptake by mongooses in southwestern Puerto Rico. We hand-distributed baits at an application rate of 200 baits/km2 at three, 400 ha, sites during autumn 2016 and spring 2017. Each site contained 90–100 cage traps in a 100 ha central trapping area. We used ethyl-IPA as a biological marker during the autumn and methyl-IPA during the spring. We live captured mongooses for 10 consecutive days, beginning 1 wk following bait application. We obtained a serum sample from captured mongooses and analyzed the sera for ethyl- and methyl-IPA by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. During autumn 2016, 63% (55/87) mongooses sampled were positive for ethyl-IPA. In spring 2017, 69% (85/123) of mongooses were positive for methyl-IPA. Pooling seasons, accounting for recaptures between years, and disregarding marker type, 74% (133/179) unique mongooses were positive for IPA biomarker, indicating bait consumption during either the autumn, spring, or both trials. We conclude that distributing baits at an application rate of 200 baits/km2 is sufficient to reach over 60% of the target mongoose population in dry forest habitats of Puerto Rico.