Which animal species should be targeted?

There is a difference between rabies in foxes and fox-mediated rabies. In the latter, the red fox as reservoir species is responsible for the occurrence of the disease in a given area. Controlling rabies in the fox population can therefore lead to elimination of the disease.

However, where the reservoir species is not the red fox but raccoons, for example (Eastern US States), fox rabies control will never lead to the elimination of rabies in foxes because the foxes will always be at risk of becoming infected through exposure to an individual of the true reservoir species, e.g. a rabid raccoon.

It is therefore very important to identify the ‘true’ vector species before control programmes are implemented. Control programmes targeted at non-reservoir species can reduce the burden of fox-mediated rabies but never eliminate it.


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Version 1 - Last updated November 2012