The pathogenicity of a vaccinia recombinant virus expressing the rabies glycoprotein (VVTGgRAB) was tested in several wild animal species which could compete with the natural rabies host, the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in consuming vaccine baits in Europe. The following species were included in this study, wild boar (Sus scrofa), Eurasian badger (Meles meles), wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), yellow-necked mouse (Apodemus flavicollis), bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus), common vole (Microtus arvalis), field vole (Microtus agrestis), water vole (Arvicola terrestris), common buzzard (Buteo buteo), kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), carrion crow (Corvus corone), magpie (Pica pica) and jay (Garrulus glandarius). During the observation period, the 107 animals given the VVTGgRAB vaccine orally did not show any clinical signs. Daily monitoring for 28 days and postmortem examination did not result in the detection of pox lesions in the oral mucosa or the skin in mammals or the unfeathered portions of birds. VVTGgRAB seems to multiply in the mammalian species tested, since rabies seroconversion was observed in all of them. Birds failed to develop demonstrable rabies virus-neutralizing antibody. A seroconversion against vaccinia virus was observed in two of four wild boars. Serological results obtained in badgers and wild boars also demonstrates the absence of direct or indirect horizontal transmission oi the recombinant virus. The potential of the recombinant virus for the immunization of badgers against rabies also was investigated. Only 50% of the badgers orally administered with 1 × 1083 TCID50 of this vaccine were protected against rabies.
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Vol. 25 • No. 4