The Rabies Challenge Fund
An important project in veterinary medicine. It will benefit by providing evidence that protection from rabies vaccination lasts at least 5 years, thereby avoiding unnecessary revaccination with its risk of adverse reactions.
Many dog caregivers across the country are becoming more and more aware of the possibility that over vaccination can have harmful effects on dogs - and the rabies vaccine is no exception. The incidence of rabies exposure in companion animals and humans, though very low today, still remains a distinct possibility. Consequently, the Federal and state governments require every dog to be vaccinated triennially (still even annually or biannually in a few states) against rabies. However, the veterinary community is increasingly concerned that rabies vaccination given this frequently is not only unnecessary but also responsible for inducing adverse reactions that lead to both acute and chronic immunological and other disorders. Although a French medical study completed in 1992 showed that rabies vaccine is protective for at least five years, Federal and state legislatures have not accepted this finding.Thus, the health and well-being of millions of dogs in the United States remain threatened by the potential for adverse vaccinal events.
Surprisingly, formal, credible research has yet to be performed by either the manufacturers of rabies vaccines or U.S. academic institutions. The Federal and state legislatures want to see the results of such research before any relevant, existing policy or statute regarding rabies vaccination can be modified. Because of the complexities of politics and bureaucratic mindsets, the best way to change the rabies protocol is to prove through a challenge study that dogs not revaccinated for five and seven years after their first two vaccinations remain as protected against rabies as they were at the age of one year.
Ferrets are susceptible to rabies, but it is a rare disease in this species compared to dogs and especially cats. Part of the reason for this is an inborn resistance to rabies. The occurrence of rabies in closely related wild animals, such as weasels and mink, is very low. Ferrets have very thick, tough skin, and not all bites will penetrate. For rabies virus to be transmitted, the skin must be broken and the wound contaminated with saliva from the rabid animal. There have been fewer than 20 cases of confirmed rabies in ferrets in the USA since 1958; several of these were associated with vaccination of the animal with a live vaccine not approved for ferrets. No human being has ever been reported to have contracted rabies from a ferret.
Until 1992, there was no rabies vaccine approved for ferrets. The rabies vaccine now labelled for ferrets, Imrab3, is a killed virus that cannot cause rabies. It is called a 3-year vaccine because dogs and cats require vaccination only every 3 years. However, ferrets must be vaccinated annually.
Pet Vaccine Disclosure Legislation