Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) campaigns have been conducted annually in the US over the past two decades to prevent raccoon (Procyon lotor) rabies, which is enzootic along the eastern region of the country from southeastern Canada to Alabama. Because raccoon rabies has been eliminated from neighboring Canadian provinces, continued detection of the variant in the US is of concern due to the potential for infected raccoons to cross the border via the St. Lawrence River. Ontario Rabies Vaccine Baits (ONRAB) containing a live, recombinant human adenovirus expressing the rabies virus glycoprotein have been under experimental use in the US since 2011. We distributed ONRAB in St. Lawrence County, New York, from 2013 to 2015 as part of field trials to evaluate serologic responses in raccoons. Prior to ONRAB distribution, rabies virus neutralizing antibody (RVNA) seroprevalence in raccoons was 45.2% (183 of 405) and increased to 57.7% (165 of 286) after 3 yr of ONRAB baiting. Postbait RVNA seroprevalence increased each year, with a lower response observed in juvenile compared with adult raccoons. The pre-ONRAB seroprevalence detected in 2013 was relatively high and was likely impacted both by elevated rabies activity in the county and the use of ORV with a different vaccine bait for 14 consecutive years prior to our study. Tetracycline biomarker prevalence increased from 1.4% prior to ONRAB baiting to 51.3% from 2013 to 2015, demonstrating bait palatability to raccoons. These data complemented related field trials conducted in West Virginia and the northeastern US.
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Vol. 55 • No. 3