Vampire bat transmitted rabies (VBR) is a continuing burden to public health and agricultural sectors in Latin America, despite decades-long efforts to control the disease by culling bat populations. Culling has been shown to disperse bats, leading to an increased spread of rabies. Thus, non-lethal strategies to control VBR, such as vaccination, are desired. Here, we evaluated the safety and efficacy of a viral-vectored recombinant mosaic glycoprotein rabies vaccine candidate (RCN-MoG) in vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) of unknown history of rabies exposure captured in México and transported to the United States. Vaccination with RCN-MoG was demonstrated to be safe, even in pregnant females, as no evidence of lesions or adverse effects were observed. We detected rabies neutralizing antibodies in 28% (8/29) of seronegative bats post-vaccination. Survival proportions of adult bats after rabies virus (RABV) challenge ranged from 55–100% and were not significantly different among treatments, pre- or post-vaccination serostatus, and route of vaccination, while eight pups (1–2.5 months of age) used as naïve controls all succumbed to challenge (P<0.0001). Importantly, we found that vaccination with RCN-MoG appeared to block viral shedding, even when infection proved lethal. Using real-time PCR, we did not detect RABV nucleic acid in the saliva samples of 9/10 vaccinated bats that succumbed to rabies after challenge (one was inconclusive). In contrast, RABV nucleic acid was detected in saliva samples from 71% of unvaccinated bats (10/14 sampled, plus one inconclusive) that died of the disease, including pups. Low seroconversion rates post-vaccination and high survival of non-vaccinated bats, perhaps due to earlier natural exposure, limited our conclusions regarding vaccine efficacy. However, our findings suggest a potential transmission-blocking effect of vaccination with RCN-MoG that could provide a promising strategy for controlling VBR in Latin America beyond longstanding culling programs.
|Title||A recombinant rabies vaccine that prevents viral shedding in rabid common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus)|
|Authors||Elsa M. Cárdenas-Canales, Andres Velasco-Villa, James A. Ellison, Panayampalli S. Satheshkumar, Jorge E. Osario, Tonie E. Rocke|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Wildlife Health Center|