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Natural Awakenings Fairfield Cty/Housatonic Valley, CT

New Guidance for Pets Exposed to Rabies

Mar 04, 2016 03:53PM

Repeat booster shots for rabies has been a subject of some debate as scientific evidence seems to supports that many, if not all, animals receive more boosters than needed to confer and maintain immunity. Finally there is evidence that conventional protocol may shift. New guidance in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association advises that cats and dogs exposed to rabies and overdue for a vaccine can now have a booster shot followed by an observation period rather than be subject to quarantine or euthanasia.

The recommendation appears in the 2016 edition of the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control from the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, along with additional updates to the 2011 edition. Catherine M. Brown, co-chair of the compendium committee, described the compendium as a series of best practices that jurisdictions can choose to follow. The compendium also advises reducing the quarantine period from six months to four for unvaccinated cats and dogs exposed to rabies. The compendium committee based the guidance on unpublished data from various states.

“In humans, we utilize titers,” Michael C. Moore, lead author of the study said. “In humans, if they’re pre-exposure vaccinated and exposed to rabies, we booster them with great success, and they don’t develop disease.”

The Rabies Laboratory at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory receives several calls every month regarding cats and dogs exposed to rabies and overdue for a vaccine. Moore said the only recourse has been euthanasia or a six-month quarantine at a cost of thousands of dollars. “We are very excited that people might have an additional option if their cat or dog is out-of-date and exposed to rabies,” he said.

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