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Oral vaccination against rabies and the behavioural ecology of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).

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1
Impfstoffwerk Dessau, Tornau GmbH, IDT GmbH, PSF 214, 06855 Rosslau, Germany. ad.vos@idt-direct.de

Abstract

As a result of oral vaccination of foxes (Vulpes vulpes) against rabies, this virus disease has almost been completely eradicated from West- and Central Europe. In most countries, vaccine baits were distributed twice a year: during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to October). This strategy has shown to be able to control and eventually eradicate rabies. However, it remains to be clarified if this is the most cost-effective strategy. Astonishingly, the behavioural ecology of the target species, the red fox, did receive only limited attention selecting the periods when baits should be distributed. Considering the behavioural ecology and rabies epidemiology of foxes, territory owners seem to play a key role in the spread and maintenance of rabies. Thus, oral vaccination campaigns should be targeted primarily at these animals. It is suggested that the optimal timing for bait distribution in Europe is late autumn (November) or early winter (December), depending on the prevailing climatic conditions. Additional campaigns, when financially feasible, can be implemented in order to maintain a high vaccination coverage during the remaining year. Furthermore, different baiting strategies can be selected in case of re-infection or persistent residual foci.

PMID:
14720184
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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