To eradicate rabies in foxes, almost 97 million oral rabies vaccine baits have been distributed in Germany and Austria since 1983 and 1986, respectively. Since 2007, no terrestrial cases have been reported in either country. The most widely used oral rabies vaccine viruses in these countries were SAD (Street Alabama Dufferin) strains, e.g. SAD B19 (53.2%) and SAD P5/88 (44.5%). In this paper, we describe six possible vaccine-virus-associated rabies cases in red foxes ( Vulpes vulpes ) detected during post-vaccination surveillance from 2001 to 2006, involving two different vaccines and different batches. Compared to prototypic vaccine strains, full-genome sequencing revealed between 1 and 5 single nucleotide alterations in the L gene in 5 of 6 SAD isolates, resulting in up to two amino acid substitutions. However, experimental infection of juvenile foxes showed that those mutations had no influence on pathogenicity. The cases described here, coming from geographically widely separated regions, do not represent a spatial cluster. More importantly, enhanced surveillance showed that the vaccine viruses involved did not become established in the red fox population. It seems that the number of reported vaccine virus-associated rabies cases is determined predominantly by the intensity of surveillance after the oral rabies vaccination campaign and not by the selection of strains.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jul 1, 2009
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