Laboratory studies confirm the potential for fertility control in the house mouse Mus domesticus using mouse cytomegalovirus (MCMV) as a vector for an immunocontraceptive vaccine. This article presents an overview of key results from research in Australia on enclosed and field populations of mice and the associated epidemiology of MCMV. The virus is geographically widespread in Australia. It also persists in low population densities of mice, although if population densities are low for at least a year, transmission of the virus is sporadic until a population threshold of approximately 40 mice ha(-1) is reached. The serological prevalence of MCMV was high early in the breeding season of four field populations. Enclosure studies confirm that MCMV has minimal impact on the survival and breeding performance of mice and that it can be transmitted to most adults within 10-12 weeks. Other enclosure studies indicate that about two-thirds of females would need to be sterilized to provide effective control of the rate of growth of mouse populations. If this level is not maintained for 20-25 weeks after the commencement of breeding, the mouse population can compensate through increased recruitment per breeding female. The findings from this series of descriptive and manipulative population studies of mice support the contention that MCMV would be a good carrier for an immunocontraceptive vaccine required to sustain female sterility levels at or above 65%.
|Publication status||Published - 2002|