A field study was conducted on Ossabaw Island, Georgia (USA) to determine the feasibility of delivering oral vaccines to wild swine (Sus scrofa). Baits were made of polymer-bound fish meal and contained a gelatin capsule as a potential vaccine chamber. Two biomarkers, iophenoxic acid and tetracycline, were incorporated into each bait, and soured chicken mash was used as an attractant. Baits (n = 1,980) were distributed in a grid pattern on a 405-ha test site and monitored for animal disturbance. Within 72 hr, 88% of 393 monitored baits were gone, and observations of track-beds surrounding 100 baits indicated that at least 52% were taken by wild swine. Subsequent testing of 80 wild swine for the biomarkers revealed that 95% of the animals had consumed bait. Track-bed observations indicated that raccoons (Procyon lotor) were the only non-target animal that frequently took baits. Biomarker analyses indicated 44% of 16 raccoons tested had eaten bait. It was concluded that oral vaccine delivery to wild swine should be considered as a feasible method of control or eradication of pseudorabies and/or swine brucellosis in wild swine if effective vaccines become available.
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Vol. 26 • No. 4