The small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) was introduced to several Caribbean Islands to control rat (Rattus spp.) damage to sugarcane plantations. Mongooses failed at suppressing rat populations and are now considered pests throughout most of their introduced range. Importantly, mongooses are rabies reservoirs on several Caribbean Islands. In Puerto Rico, mongooses have been implicated in up to 70% of reported animal rabies cases. There is no rabies vaccination program for wildlife in Puerto Rico, and data on rabies in mongooses are limited. We conducted a serosurvey of mongooses in two different ecologic environments in Puerto Rico: El Yunque National Forest and Cabo Rojo National Wildlife Refuge. We collected 119 serum samples from 112 mongooses, 44 (39.3%) of which were positive for rabies virus–neutralizing antibodies. We also collected oral swabs from 147 mongooses, including 88 from which we also collected serum. No oral swabs were positive for rabies virus RNA. Our data support previous research suggesting rabies virus is circulating within the mongoose population on Puerto Rico.
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Vol. 51 • No. 4