Prospects for virally vectored immunocontraception in the control of wild house mice (Mus domesticus)

The wild house mouse (Mus domesticus) is not native to Australia and was introduced from Europe with early settlement. It undergoes periodic population explosions or plagues, which place significant economic and social burdens on agricultural communities. Present control mechanisms rely on improvements to farm hygiene and the use of rodenticides. This review covers over a decade of work on the use of virally vectored immunocontraception (VVIC) as an adjunct method of controlling mouse populations. Two viral vectors, ectromelia virus (ECTV) and murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) have been tested as potential VVIC vectors: MCMV has been the most widely studied vector because it is endemic to Australia; ECTV less so because its use would have required the introduction of a new pathogen into the Australian environment. Issues such as efficacy, antigen choice, resistance, transmission, species specificity and safety of VVIC are discussed. In broad terms, both vectors when expressing murine zona pellucida 3 (mZP3) induced long-term infertility in most directly inoculated female mice. Whereas innate and acquired resistance to MCMV may be a barrier to VVIC, the most significant barrier appears to be the attenuation seen in MCMV-based vectors. This attenuation is likely to prevent sufficient transmission for broad-scale use. Should this issue be overcome, VVIC has the potential to contribute to the control of house mouse populations in Australia.

Author Alec J. Redwood, Lee M. Smith, Megan L. Lloyd, Lyn A. Hinds, Christopher M. Hardy and Geoffrey R. Shellam
Date 13/12/2007
Year 2007
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 34
Number 7
Institution Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre
Pages 530-539
Notes Notes
Control method Fertility Control
Region Australia - national