Arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus) were immunized with lyophilized SAG2 oral rabies vaccine. The effectiveness of this vaccine was determined by serologic response and survival to challenge by rabies virus isolated from a red fox from Alaska (USA). No vaccine virus was found in saliva 1–72 hr after ingestion. At 2 wk after vaccination, all foxes had seroconverted, with rabies virus neutralizing antibody levels of 0.2–3.1 IU ml−1. All vaccinated foxes survived to week 17 after challenge, and hippocampus, pons, and cerebellum were free of rabies virus as determined by direct immunofluorescence testing after death. One of four nonvaccinated foxes survived challenge and was free of rabies virus in neural tissue, and no rabies virus neutralizing antibody was detected in blood. Our results suggest that the lyophilized SAG2 oral rabies vaccine could be effective in arctic and subarctic regions, where freezing air and ground temperatures probably would not reduce its immunogenicity.
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Vol. 40 • No. 2