Immunogenicity and Safety of Recombinant Rabies Viruses Used for Oral Vaccination of Stray Dogs and Wildlife


Milosz Faber. 233 South 10th Street, BLSB 539, Philadelphia, PA 19107-5541, USA. Tel.: +1 215 503 4696; Fax: +1 215 923 9248; E-mail:


Rabies is a zoonotic disease and stray dogs, wild carnivores and bats are the natural reservoirs of rabies. Oral immunization with live vaccines is the only practical approach to eradicate rabies in free ranging terrestrial animals. We have developed the double glycoprotein (G) rabies virus (RV) variant SPBNGAS-GAS that has great promise to be used as a live-attenuated vaccine. Oral immunization of rodents and several target animal species with this double G RV variant resulted in the induction of protective immunity, superior to that induced by a single RV G variant (SPBNGAS). The high oral efficacy of SPBNGAS-GAS is likely because of its increased ability to infect monocytes or immature dendritic cells (DCs), thereby inducing their conversion into mature DCs. Furthermore, infection of DCs with the double G variant resulted in a strong up-regulation of the expression of genes related to the NFκB signalling pathway including IFN-α and IFN-β, which might underlie the protection conferred by this live RV vaccine. A potential problem associated with the use of live RVs for oral vaccination could rest in the possibility of reversion to the pathogenic phenotype because of the high mutation rate characteristic for all RNA viruses. In this respect, the presence of a second non-pathogenic G gene decreases considerably the risk of reversion to the pathogenic phenotype because a non-pathogenic G is dominant over a pathogenic G in determining the pathogenicity of the double G RV variant. Because of its excellent efficacy and safety, the SPBNGAS-GAS vaccine may provide a distinct advantage over other live RV vaccine in its ability to vaccinate a broad range of mammalian species.