Date of Award

Fall 12-9-2016

Degree Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Animal Science

First Advisor

Dr. Will Laegreid

Abstract

Rabies is a zoonotic virus that is extremely lethal to humans and many wildlife species such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, as well as domestic animals such as cats, dogs, and livestock. Reservoirs of the rabies virus throughout species specific populations pose an enormous risk of exposure and infection of domestic animals that have direct contact with humans. The most effective way to prevent wildlife spillover of rabies is through the use of vaccine programs. The wildlife targeted with vaccines are mainly skunks, raccoons, and foxes since these species hold the most significant reservoirs of the virus within the United States. Modified live or attenuated vaccines and whole inactivated or killed vaccines will be discussed as well as their effectiveness and drawbacks. Different forms of administration of vaccines will be compared and contrasted to decide the effectiveness of the types. The social and habitual behaviors of skunks, raccoons, and foxes need to be understand in order to administrate the vaccines at the most effective time to ensure a larger number of wildlife are vaccinated. The cost effectiveness of type of vaccine, administrative methods, and the cost of distribution must be analyzed to reduce costs of the vaccine programs. Further research must be done to create different strains of vaccines that are cost effective, have very few drawbacks, and are effective at preventing the virus from infecting wildlife populations. It may not be possible to eradicate the rabies virus within the near future due to its ability to infect many species but the control and prevention of the virus in the wildlife populations is essential in order to reduce the risk of domestic animals being infected and ultimately prevent humans from becoming infected.

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