We present to you the project "Oral Vaccination of Wild Animals against Rabies"
Oral vaccination of foxes is the only way to stop rabies in nature, in order to protect human and animal health, while the vaccines are ingested by food (baits). With the regular practice of vaccination of dogs and cats, rabies has been eradicated in Europe. By recognizing the importance of eradicating this disease, Montenegro, with the support of the EU, as well as the neighbouring countries in the region, for the fourth year in a row, conducts oral vaccination of the foxes.
The project started in November 2010, it is funded by the European Commission (EC), and the beneficiary of the project is the Veterinary Administration. The EC participated with 1.5 million Euros, while the planned participation of the Government of Montenegro within the budgetary position of the Veterinary Administration amounted to 200.000 Euros. In addition, the European Delegation allocated funds in the amount of 100.000 Euros for the purchase of laboratory equipment for the necessary laboratory examinations, and Veterinary Administration provided with 50.000 Euros for the purchase of supplies and reagents.
For the first two vaccination campaigns, the EC has provided vaccine-baits (fall 2011/spring 2012), whereas the Government of Montenegro, within the budgetary position of the Veterinary Administration, has allocated around 300.000 Euros and provided the necessary amounts of vaccine-baits for the implementation of the third and fourth oral vaccination of wild animals against rabies and air distribution of vaccine-baits (in the period autumn 2012/spring 2013). After that, with the support of the EU, the necessary amount of vaccine-baits was provided and air distribution was performed in fall 2013/spring 2014, fall 2014/spring 2015.
This year, the EC has also provided funds for the purchase of the necessary quantity of vaccine baits to be used for the campaign in the autumn of 2015 and spring of 2016.
Within this project, the campaign of oral vaccination of foxes was supported and for the first time conducted during the fall of 2011, as the beginning of a series of two vaccination campaigns in one year. The campaign of vaccination against rabies will last for a minimum of five years and it includes a campaign of distribution of baits from the air by planes.
In order to check the effectiveness of oral vaccination, after each campaign, an assessment of the efficiency of the oral vaccine and the immunity of foxes is carried out, in the Specialized veterinary laboratory. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is necessary to catch four foxes per 100 kilometres in the areas where the vaccination took place. The caught foxes represent samples from regular hunting activities. The foxes are examined for levels of antibodies for rabies, and the presence of tetracycline biomarker in the teeth/bones. If these findings are positive, it is proof that the fox consumed bait and that it has been vaccinated. Apart from this analysis, the age of foxes is estimated. Hunters give foxes to veterinary infirmaries that, after sampling, send them to a specialist veterinarian laboratory for testing.
Benefits of the project: The main objective of oral vaccination implementation is the eradication of rabies in wild animals and breaking the chain of transmission from potentially infected wild animals (foxes) to the population in domestic farming.
In the long term, the project aim is to officially declare Montenegro as a rabies-free country. The fact that the last case of rabies in Montenegro was recorded in March of 2012, says that Montenegro is on the right track towards achieving this objective.
Eradicating the rabies in domestic and wild animals will lead to improvements in health care, in both animals and humans.