Campaigns of fox vaccination against rabies were carried out in Belgium in September 1986 and June and September 1987. The SAD B19 attenuated strain of rabies virus was inserted into baits which were distributed over an area of 2100 km2 at a density of 11 baits/km2. As recommended by the World Health Organisation, the efficacy and the innocuity of the method were controlled in the field and in the laboratory. Samples of blood and brain and jaw were taken from foxes which were shot or found dead in the vaccination area, for the diagnosis of rabies, the titration of antirabies antibody and the detection of tetracycline marker. In rabid animals, the virus strain was characterised by immunofluorescence using monoclonal antibodies. In September 1987, the uptake of the baits had reached 72 per cent by 14 days after distribution. Several wild species competed with foxes in taking the baits. After the last campaign, tetracycline was found in 65 per cent of the healthy foxes collected and rabies virus neutralising antibodies were detected in 77 per cent of them. In 1987, the incidence of rabies decreased markedly in the vaccination area compared with the untreated areas. No vaccine virus was isolated either from rabid animals or from 228 small mammals trapped in the vaccination area.
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