Control of rabies in mesocarnivore reservoirs through oral rabies vaccination (ORV) requires an effective vaccine bait. Oral rabies vaccine performance in the field may be affected by a variety of factors, including vaccine bait density and distribution pattern, habitat, target species population density, and the availability of competing foods. A field study in which these covariates were restricted as much as possible was conducted along the international border of the state of Maine (ME), USA, and the province of New Brunswick (NB), Canada, to compare the performance of two oral rabies vaccines in raccoons (Procyon lotor) and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis). RABORAL V-RG® (vaccinia-rabies glycoprotein recombinant oral vaccine in fishmealcoated sachet) or ONRAB® (adenovirus-rabies glycoprotein recombinant oral vaccine in Ultralite bait matrix) were distributed in ME and NB, respectively, by fixed-wing aircraft at a density of 75 baits/km2 along parallel flight lines spaced 1.0 km apart. Sera were collected from live-trapped raccoons and skunks 5–7 wk post-ORV and assayed to determine antibody prevalence in each area. Duplicate serum samples were provided blind to two different laboratories for analyses by rabies virus serum neutralization assays (at both laboratories) and a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (at one laboratory). There was no significant difference in the proportion of antibody-positive animals determined by the three serologic methods, nor was there a significant difference between ONRAB and RABORAL V-RG in the proportion of antibody-positive striped skunks observed post-ORV. In contrast, the proportion of antibody-positive raccoons was significantly higher in the ONRAB- versus the RABORAL V-RG–baited areas (74% vs. 30%; χ2=89.977, df=5, P<0.0001). These data support that ONRAB may serve as an effective tool for raccoon rabies control.
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