Raccoons invited to lunch on rabies vaccine

时间:2019-02-26 01:14:01166网络整理admin

A RAGOUT of polymer, fish oil and a genetically engineered virus tickled the palates of American raccoons this week on the uninhabited Parramore Island off the coast of Virginia. The cocktail was designed to vaccinate wild animals against rabies. Foxes in France and Belgium ate similar bait in field tests this year and last. Scientists in the US hope that raccoons, which contract and spread rabies in America, share the same tastes. Wild populations of this nocturnal, tree-dwelling relative of the bear commonly inhabit suburban areas, having grown used to humans. Inhabitants of southeastern states fear that the animals might spread rabies to humans. The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, worked on the vaccine, known as VRG (for vaccinia rabies glycoprotein), with the French company Rhone Merieux, which has used it with foxes in Europe. Researchers succeeded in snipping out a gene within the rabies virus that codes for a specific glycoprotein. They spliced the gene into vaccinia, which is a relatively harmless virus that was used for smallpox vaccination. The vaccinia is absorbed through the mucus in the mouth. In the bloodstream, the live vaccinia produces enough rabies glycoprotein to induce an immune response in the host. The raccoons will be rounded up in a couple of weeks, says Suzanne Jenkins,