Captive raccoons were offered a variety of vaccine containers and bait components in a series of three-choice tests. Paraffin wax ampules were the most readily accepted vaccine container. Preferred bait components included corn and shellfish oils, deep fried corn meal batter, and egg, apple and buttermilk flavorings. These results, together with factors including ease of bait formulation, cost, and suitability for field use, were used to develop an experimental delivery system for an oral rabies vaccine. The developed system was composed of a polyurethane sleeve (1.5 × 5.5 cm) dipped in a commercial food batter mix together with corn meal, milk and egg. The sleeve was deep fried in corn oil and a 2.0 ml ampule containing a recombinant rabies vaccine was then inserted into the sleeve bait. These baits were presented to 10 captive raccoons. Nine of the 10 animals developed high levels of rabies virus neutralizing antibodies. Field tests are needed to determine if the delivery system developed also is effective for wild raccoons.
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