What is the goal of the ORVP?
The initial goal of the ORVP was to contain two rabies epizootics which began in 1988: the canine rabies epizootic in South Texas (primarily in coyotes and domestic dogs) and the gray fox rabies epizootic in West-Central Texas. By establishing zones of vaccinated target wildlife along the leading edges of each epizootic, the ORVP led to the elimination of the domestic dog-coyote (DDC) rabies virus variant and significant reduction of the Texas fox (TF) rabies virus variant. The current ORVP goals include maintaining a zone of vaccinated target wildlife along the US-Mexico border to prevent reintroduction of wildlife rabies, responding to sporadic cases due to TF or DDC rabies virus variants, and evaluating the effectiveness of this program for controlling skunk rabies.
What type of vaccine is used in the ORVP?
An oral rabies vaccine, Raboral V-RG, is distributed with a bait attractant for uptake by coyotes, gray foxes, and other wild carnivores. Although the vaccine is not harmful if ingested, it is not approved for protection against rabies in domestic animals and cannot be used as a substitute for injectable rabies vaccine
The vaccine combines a non-pathogenic (non-pathogenic in most immune-competent individuals) virus (vaccinia) with a small portion of the RNA from the rabies virus . This RNA codes for the G-protein of the rabies virus which stimulates an immune response in the vaccinated animal without the usual exposure to the entire rabies virus.
What are the dangers to humans and other animals?
: Extensive research in a wide variety of species has shown the vaccine to be very safe. The vaccine is made by utilizing the most current technology, and only non-infectious portions of the rabies virus are used. Therefore, neither humans nor animals are in danger of developing rabies if they are exposed to the vaccine.
However, it is advised that physicians consider the possibility of complications due to exposure to vaccinia, particularly if the person is immunocompromised or has dermatological conditions such as eczema. Although it is unlikely for any illness to occur, the DSHS can assist in obtaining vaccinia immune globulin if necessary.
A domestic animal's annual rabies vaccination can be safely administered even if it recently ingested a dose of oral rabies vaccine.
When is the vaccine distributed?
The program for coyotes has been ongoing since 1995 and for gray foxes since 1996. Vaccine distribution begins in early January of each year and continues for approximately 3 weeks depending on the weather.
Where is the vaccine placed?
The vaccine distribution areas vary per year and upon the location of rabies cases during the previous year. It is generally distributed in South and West Texas along the US-Mexico border. The 2014 expansion of the skunk ORV study area in East-Central Texas to determine the effectiveness against the skunk variant of the rabies virus was continued in 2015.
Maps of the various distribution areas per year are posted at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/disease/rabies/orvp/.
What does the bait look like?
The baits are coated sachets 2" x 0.75" x 0.12”. The vaccine is contained in a plastic packet dipped in fish oil and coated with fishmeal crumbles. Printed on each packet is a warning (in English) that states:
LIVE VACCINIA VECTOR
DO NOT DISTURB
Any additional measures that need to be taken?
The Zoonosis Control Branch would appreciate being notified of any potential exposures, including the name and phone number of the person who had contact with or ingested the vaccine. Contact Dr. Laura Robinson or Kathy Parker at (512) 776-7255, Laura.Robinson@dshs.state.tx.us, or Kathy.Parker@dshs.state.tx.us.