Rabies update

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:

The World Health Organization
in April credited Switzerland with becoming
the first non-island nation to eradicate rabies.
Explained Swiss Rabies Center
director Reto Zanoni, “The European fox
rabies epizootic reached Switzerland in March
1967. Rabies spread over large parts of the
country until 1977, when it caused three
human deaths. In 1978 Switzerland conducted
the first field trial worldwide of oral immunization
of foxes” with the vaccine now
known as Raboral. “Expanding the vaccination
area led to a rapid reduction in rabies
cases,” Zanoni continued. “After 1984, all
neighboring countries adopted the method of
orally immunizing foxes successfully. The
last endemic case of rabies in Switzerland was
diagnosed in 1997. Rabies-free status will
likely be reached by the neighboring countries
in the near future.”

Altogether, Switzerland deployed
2.8 million oral rabies vaccine doses embedded
in bait pellets.
Attempts to introduce the oral
rabies vaccination method to the U.S. to fight
rabies among foxes and raccoons were
delayed for more than six years by legal
actions of the National Wildlife Federation
and foes of genetic engineering. Since
deployment began, however, Raboral drops
have stopped rabies cold wherever tried, and
are credited with completely extinguishing an
outbreak among Texas coyotes between mid-
1995 and early 1998.
However, Maine state veterinarian
Chip Ridky and state epidemiologist
Kathleen Gensheimer are opposing use of
Raboral against raccoon and fox rabies there,
Gensheimer told Susan Rayfield of the
Portland Press Herald because, “Rabies in
wildlife is considered an acceptable element
of the population dynamics,” and “If all people
acted responsibly and got rabies shots for
their pets, no animals would have to be quarantined
or euthanized.”
Possible translation: trappers like to
use rabies as a pretext for killing raccoons and
foxes, and vets know that much of their business
develops from requiring pets to get a
general exam before being vaccinated.

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