Twenty-four adult striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) were administered the raccoon product formulation of Rabies Vaccine, Live Vaccinia-Vectored (Raboral V-RG®, Merial Limited, Athens, Georgia, USA), either by oral instillation or in vaccine-filled coated sachets either as single or multiple doses. A control group remained unvaccinated. Twenty-three of the skunks were challenged 116 days postvaccination with rabies virus (skunk isolate). Six of six naive skunks succumbed to challenge. Four of six skunks that received the vaccine by oral instillation survived challenge. The skunks that did not survive failed to seroconvert following vaccination. None of the skunks that accepted multiple doses of the vaccine offered in coated sachets survived challenge, nor were rabies virus-neutralizing antibodies (VNAs) detected in the sera. Likewise, none of the five skunks ingesting a single sachet developed VNA against rabies. However, in this group one skunk did survive rabies challenge. This preliminary study showed that the vaccinia-vectored oral rabies vaccine Raboral V-RG®, as formulated for use in raccoons, is capable of protecting a percentage of skunks against rabies. However, although the fishmeal-coated sachets were readily consumed, subsequent challenge of these animals revealed poor vaccine delivery efficiency.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1