US Department of Agriculture (APHIS) | Field evaluation of oral rabies vaccine for raccoons and other wildlife continues

Picture of a raccoon on a tree
Contacts:
Tania Espinosa (301) 851-4092
Susan Bond (301) 851-4070

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2022—The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced today that it will continue field evaluation of the ONRAB oral rabies vaccine (ORV) in seven states. This year’s field assessment is part of an ongoing project that addresses operational questions related to bait density, distribution methods and efficacy in raccoons, skunks, and other wildlife and is linked to large-scale rabies management efforts in additional states.

APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) leads the National Collaborative Rabies Management Program working to prevent the spread of rabies in wildlife. The program is currently using another rabies vaccine, RABORAL V-RG®, to control the disease in raccoons, coyotes, and foxes. The ONRAB vaccine is being evaluated to determine if it can effectively manage rabies in raccoons and skunks.

As of late July, WS and collaborators will distribute approximately 3.5 million ONRAB ORV baits in parts of Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to test immune effects in target wildlife. In addition, a small scale project will be implemented during October in Chattanooga, Tennessee to assess the effectiveness of ONRAB use in relation to bait distribution methods. WS staff will sample raccoons and skunks after bait distribution to determine vaccination rates.

The field evaluation of ONRAB during 2022 is a collaborative effort between APHIS, the US Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vaccine manufacturer (Artemis Technologies Inc., a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Ceva Sante Animale SA, Guelph, Ontario, Canada), and government departments of agriculture, health, and natural resources. This ORV graft distribution will span parts of:

  • Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Clinton, Erie, Essex, Genesee, Jefferson, Lewis, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Orleans, Oswego, St.
  • Addison, Caledonia, Chettenden, Essex, Franklin, Orange, Orleans, and Washington counties in Vermont.
  • Cos and Grafton counties in New Hampshire.
  • Ashtabula, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Juga, Harrison, Jefferson, Lake, Mahoning, Monroe, Portage, and Trumbull counties in Ohio.
  • Allegheny, Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Greene, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington, and Westmoreland counties in Pennsylvania.
  • Barbour, Brooke, Dodridge, Greenbrier, Fayette, Hancock, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Marshall, McDowell, Mercer, Monongalia, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Randolph, Summers, Taylor, Tyler, Upshur, Webster, Wetzel, Wyoming Counties in West Virginia.
  • Bradley, Hamilton, and Marion counties in Tennessee.

ONRAB bait is a vaccine-filled blister pack coated with a sweet substance. When an animal bites into one of the baits, it releases the vaccine into its mouth and, in an appropriate dose, develops immunity to rabies. Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the bait but are required to leave the bait undisturbed if they encounter it. If contact with the bait occurs, the contact area should be rinsed immediately with warm, soapy water. Each bait carries a toll-free number that people can call if they have additional questions related to calling the bait.

Rabies is a serious public health concern. While rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear, it is 100% preventable. Human exposure can be successfully treated if medical attention is sought immediately after exposure. The costs associated with rabies detection, prevention, and control could exceed $500 million annually in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 90 percent of rabies cases reported in the United States are in wildlife.

For additional information on the rabies or ORV program, please visit https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/programs/nrmp or call WS toll-free at 1-866-4-USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297). To view an image of the ONRAB vaccine taste, please visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/7780297536/in/album-72157623983143606/

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