USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Wildlife Services (WS) program will conduct a second U.S. field trial of a vaccine to control rabies in raccoons, skunks, and other wildlife beginning this month. The expansion was approved after an environmental assessment process.

The field trial will distribute more than 1 million oral rabies vaccination (ORV) baits in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia to test the safety and efficacy of the ONRAB® vaccine for potential use in wildlife. The ONRAB® vaccine is currently used in Canada to control rabies in raccoons, skunks and foxes. The vaccine was field tested in the U.S. for the first time in West Virginia last year. Results from the 2011 U.S. field trial with ONRAB® were promising and warranted additional, expanded testing of the vaccine for potential licensure by the USDA APHIS Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB).

WS works cooperatively with local, state and federal governments, universities and other partners to reduce the prevalence of rabies in wildlife by distributing ORV bait in targeted areas. While the bait currently used in ORV programs has proven to be effective in raccoons, coyotes, and foxes, it does not produce detectable levels of immunity in striped skunks.

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