Rabies and Vaccine Research

Rabies and Vaccine Research

Research shows that the management of dogs and cats exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal should be the same for pets with current and with out-of-date rabies vaccination status.

Current recommendations in the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control state that unvaccinated dogs and cats be quarantined for 6 months or euthanized if exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal, while those with current in-date rabies vaccination status should be administered a rabies booster and observed for 45 days, usually under the owner’s supervision. Recommendations for dogs and cats with out-of-date rabies status (i.e., overdue for rabies vaccination) is evaluated on a case by case basis. However, out of an overabundance of caution, the recommendations for unvaccinated dogs and cats are usually followed in animals with out-of-date vaccination status.  Thus, many of these animals are euthanized.

Research conducted at the Kansas State University demonstrates that the immune response to a rabies vaccine booster in dogs and cats with out-of-date vaccination status is no worse than the response in dogs and cats with a current rabies vaccination status. In fact, dogs and cats with an out-of-date rabies vaccination status often had a higher median titer (i.e., better response) following booster vaccination compared with dogs whose rabies vaccination status was current!

It is hoped that this new information will lead to a change in recommendations for the management of dogs and cats with out-of-date rabies status who are exposed to a rabid or potentially rabid animal.

There is an interesting aside to this research. When queried, the rabies vaccine manufacturer confirmed that the 1- and 3-year rabies vaccines are identical. Therefore, in this study dogs and cats who had received either the 1- or 3-year rabies vaccine where classified as having current vaccination status if the vaccine was administered <3 years prior to enrollment in the study.

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You can read the entire study (Moore, et al. Comparison of anamnestic responses to rabies vaccination in dogs and cats with current and out-of-date vaccination status. JAVMA. 2015;246(2):205-211)  at http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/pdf/10.2460/javma.246.2.205

Many pet owners have concerns with the required frequency of rabies vaccine administration. The Rabies Challenge fund is a charitable trust that is conducting research to document the duration of protection for the rabies vaccine, with the goal of extending the legally required interval for rabies boosters. Click here for more information.  http://abbeyrosefoundation.org/what-is-the-rabies-challenge-fund/

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What is the Rabies Challenge Fund?

What is the Rabies Challenge Fund?

RCF13Protection against the rabies virus is an important part of US public health policy. However, the vaccine is not without risks. The rabies vaccine is associated with a high rate of adverse reactions that can lead to substantial illness and even death in some of our pets.  Because the risk of adverse reactions increases with each dose of rabies vaccine administered, the Rabies Challenge Fund is working to scientifically demonstrate that fewer life-time doses of the vaccine will provide at least equivalent protection compared with current immunization schedules.  Fewer rabies doses over a pet’s lifetime will reduce the risk of adverse reactions and reduce costs to pet owners.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is a Charitable Trust whose goal is to extend the legally required interval for rabies boosters to 5 years and then to 7 years based on the results of rabies challenge studies being conducted at the University of Wisconsin. Two well-known and respected individuals are guiding this project – Dr. Jean Dodds of Hemopet and Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin.

This research is important because of the high potency of the rabies vaccine and its association with a number of serious adverse effects. These include damage to the nervous system, leading to muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of the nervous system  control of tissue and organ function, lack of coordination, and weakness; a variety of autoimmune diseases (an autoimmune disease is an abnormal immune response causing the body to attack its own healthy tissue) such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia and autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; serious allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and tumors called fibrosarcomas at the injection site. Because most of these are delayed reactions occurring months or years after administration of the rabies vaccine and because these reactions can have multiple causes, their association with the rabies vaccine is often missed.

The Rabies Challenge Fund is a grassroots effort. They need your financial support to continue their important work. Visit http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/ to learn more about the Rabies Challenge Fund and click here to donate – every penny helps!

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