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Prev Vet Med. 2008 Apr 17;84(1-2):1-10. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Vaccination of free-living juvenile wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) against myxomatosis improved their survival.

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Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage, Direction des Etudes et de la Recherche, 53 rue Russeil, 44000 Nantes, France.


For several decades, the populations of the European wild rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) have declined, which is partly due to myxomatosis. Vaccination against this disease is expected to contribute to restoration of rabbit populations but the actual impact of myxomatosis is not well known and vaccination might have some negative effects. We analyzed the capture-mark-recapture data obtained in a 4-year field experiment (1991-1994) in a park near Paris, France wherein 300 out of 565 seronegative juvenile rabbits were vaccinated at first capture against myxomatosis with the nontransmissible Dervaximyxo SG33 vaccine. After accounting for weight at first capture, age-class (juvenile/adult), "trap-happiness" and season (spring/autumn) of the capture event, vaccinated rabbits had 1.8-fold greater odds of surviving than the unvaccinated rabbits. The average summer survival risk for vaccinated juveniles was 0.63 (+/-0.08 S.E.) whereas it was 0.48 (+/-0.08 S.E.) for unvaccinated juvenile rabbits.

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