Oral vaccination is an important tool currently in use to control the spread of rabies in wildlife populations in various programs around the world. Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of raccoons represents the largest targeted program to control wildlife rabies in the United States. Currently, the vaccinia-rabies glycoprotein recombinant virus vaccine (V-RG) is the only licensed oral rabies vaccine in the US. In the current study, captive raccoons were used to evaluate two previously described constructs of a rabies virus vaccine developed by reverse genetics (SPBNGAS and SPBNGAS-GAS) for immunogenicity and efficacy compared to the V-RG vaccine. Four of five control animals succumbed to rabies virus after severe challenge, while three of five animals vaccinated orally with SPBNGAS succumbed. No mortality was observed for animals administered SPBNGAS-GAS or the V-RG vaccine. The results of this preliminary study suggest that SPBNGAS-GAS provides comparable efficacy to V-RG. Additional studies will be needed to determine the duration of immunity and optimal dosage of SPBNGAS-GAS and to examine its efficacy in other reservoir species.
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