A predictive model of spread and control of rabies in red fox (Vulpes vulpes) populations was used to evaluate efficacy of culling, oral vaccination, and oral vaccination and fertility control (V FC) as rabies control strategies. In addition, effects of season, fox population density, and a delay in starting control were modeled. At fox densities of 0.5 fox families/km2 or greater, a single oral vaccination campaign with bait uptake rates of less than 50% resulted in ineffective rabies control. An uptake rate of at least 80% was required to give a better than 80% chance of eliminating rabies. Vaccination was least effective at controlling rabies if applied 1 or 2 mo before the foxes gave birth. Seasonal timing of poison or V FC had little effect on efficacy, which was always more successful than the oral vaccination alone. The longer the delay between the simulated start of the rabies infection and the application of a single vaccination campaign, the less successful was the control, particularly at the higher fox densities tested. At a fox density of 0.25 families/km2, all the strategies were equally successful at eliminating rabies. At higher fox densities V FC was slightly less successful than culling, whereas vaccination-only was considerably less successful. The sole use of vaccination is not considered a viable control method for areas with high fox densities. The model suggests that an area of culling centered on the disease focus, plus an outer ring of vaccine or V FC, could be the best strategy to control a point-source wildlife rabies outbreak.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2