Rabies is the only vaccine that is mandated by law for dogs and cats. Many states like New York require revaccinations at three-year intervals which is the longest. A few states like Alabama still mandate that pets have annual rabies vaccinations.
Some veterinary immunologists believe that the immunity of rabies vaccines actually exceeds three years and that the duration of the vaccination could be 5 years or 7 years. Except, there have been no clinical trials done to prove their hypothesis. The vaccine companies, which normally provide the clinical trials, have no strong economic incentive to prove that the vaccination immunity does last longer than 3 years.
One woman, Kris Christine, teamed up with two veterinarians to find help. Christine found Jean Dodds of Hemopet in Garden Grove, Calif., and Ronald Schultz at University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison. The two vets incidentally helped formulate the American Animal Hospital Association’s guidelines. In fact, Christine was quite influential in forcing the state of Maine to change its annual rabies revaccination requirement from annually to every three years.
Dodds has lectured on the adverse reactions with the rabies vaccine. It includes autoimmune diseases of the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites, especially in cats.
This team wanted to “formally prove the rabies vaccine’s long-term duration of immunity, so state-mandated intervals for boosters could be extended”.
Two years ago, Christine teamed up with Dodds to create the Rabies Challenge Fund which needed $177,000 to fund the studies’ first-year budget.
More on the Rabies Challenge Fund after the jump.
Thanks to the contributions of many dog clubs, veterinarians and concerned owners, they now have the money to start.
The concurrent 5- and 7-year challenge studies trials will begin next month under the supervision of Schultz, who is volunteering his time as principal investigator. The University of Wisconsin will donate all the overhead costs.
“I’ve been an activist for a long time,” Dodds says, “and this is the first time I’ve seen the public mount a grass-roots effort because the veterinary profession and the vaccine industry haven’t done anything.”
Five years from now, Schultz will likely have the proof of what he has known all along: That the rabies vaccine provides long-term immunity. In the face of that, the government can lengthen the mandated revaccination intervals.