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1.  Immunogenicity Studies in Carnivores Using a Rabies Virus Construct with a Site-Directed Deletion in the Phosphoprotein 
Different approaches have been applied to develop highly attenuated rabies virus vaccines for oral vaccination of mesocarnivores. One prototype vaccine construct is SAD dIND1, which contains a deletion in the P-gene severely limiting the inhibition of type-1 interferon induction. Immunogenicity studies in foxes and skunks were undertaken to investigate whether this highly attenuated vaccine would be more immunogenic than the parental SAD B19 vaccine strain. In foxes, it was demonstrated that SAD dIND1 protected the animals against a rabies infection after a single oral dose, although virus neutralizing antibody titres were lower than in foxes orally vaccinated with the SAD B19 virus as observed in previous experiments. In contrast, skunks receiving 107.5 FFU SAD dIND1 did not develop virus neutralizing antibodies and were not protected against a subsequent rabies infection.
PMCID: PMC3177460  PMID: 21991446
2.  Kinetics of maternal immunity against rabies in fox cubs (Vulpes vulpes) 
In previous experiments, it was demonstrated that maternal antibodies (maAb) against rabies in foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were transferred from the vixen to her offspring. However, data was lacking from cubs during the first three weeks post partum. Therefore, this complementary study was initiated.
Blood samples (n = 281) were collected from 64 cubs (3 to 43 days old) whelped by 19 rabies-immune captive-bred vixens. Sera was collected up to six times from each cub. The samples were analysed by a fluorescence focus inhibition technique (RFFIT), and antibody titres (nAb) were expressed in IU/ml. The obtained data was pooled with previous data sets. Subsequently, a total of 499 serum samples from 249 cubs whelped by 54 rabies-immune vixens were fitted to a non-linear regression model.
The disappearance rate of maAb was independent of the vixens' nAb-titre. The maAb-titre of the cubs decreased exponentially with age and the half-life of the maAb was estimated to be 9.34 days. However, maAb of offspring whelped by vixens with high nAb-titres can be detected for longer by RFFIT than that of offspring whelped by vixens with relatively low nAb-titres. At a mean critical age of about 23 days post partum, maAb could no longer be distinguished from unspecific reactions in RFFIT depending on the amount of maAb transferred by the mother.
The amount of maAb cubs receive is directly proportional to the titre of the vixen and decreases exponentially with age below detectable levels in seroneutralisation tests at a relatively early age.
PMCID: PMC116597  PMID: 12069694

Results 1-2 (2)