In North America, terrestrial wildlife rabies control is achieved by oral rabies vaccination programs that principally target mesocarnivores. Success at rabies control in striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) has been more limited and may require additional enhancements to existing bait products or novel bait designs and attractants. We evaluated preference among captive striped skunks for six different flavors of placebo Ontario Rabies Vaccine Bait (ONRAB®) “Ultralite” Baits (Artemis Technologies, Guelph, Ontario, Canada). Different doses and delivery methods of ONRAB vaccine were tested for efficacy in a subsequent experiment with the same skunks. Cheese-, egg-, and chicken-flavored baits were preferred over plain-flavored baits, but a strong preference for a singular flavor was not observed. Vaccine efficacy of 80–100% was observed among skunks challenged at 335 d postvaccination across a log range of doses tested by a direct instillation into the oral cavity route, respectively (109.3−1010.2 median tissue culture infective doses), in contrast to more-limited efficacy by bait delivery. Our results extended the duration of ONRAB vaccine efficacy in skunks and suggested that there may be limited flexibility to alter vaccine titer and volume in novel bait designs for skunks.
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Vol. 54 • No. 1