Whole Dog Journal's Blog December 19, 2011

Rabies is Still a Deadly Threat

Posted at 04:50PM - Comments: (4)

Headline news over the weekend: South Caroline woman contracts rabies; first human case in that state in 50 years. This comes on the heels of hearing news from East Coast animal shelters that they’ve been seeing cases of rabies in cats. All in all, pretty alarming news. Today and in the U.S., most people take it for granted that rabies is a distant, old-timey threat, sort of like smallpox. But rabies has not been eradicated – far from it. It’s still common in wildlife, and a threat to any unvaccinated mammal who comes into contact with an infected species.

There is plenty of evidence that vaccination against rabies can cause health problems in a certain small percentage of sensitive individual dogs, and that, by law, the vaccination is over-administered to dogs. That’s one of the reasons we so avidly support the work of the Rabies Challenge Fund, which seeks to provide legitimate studies that could be used to help lobby for a change in state laws allowing for less-frequent vaccination. But none of this should be any justification for not vaccinating dogs.

I only mentioning this last line because I’ve been seeing frequent postings of articles about overvaccination followed by informal discussions or comments from people saying things like, “I don’t vaccinate any of my animals anymore, and they are far healthier for it!” That’s a dangerous position to take – and I’d guess, one with more potential for harm than overvaccination.

Of course we don’t want our dogs to be overvaccinated. But with rabies, no vaccination at all is worse. The disease is 99.9 percent fatal. And it’s staging a current comeback on our shores right now.



Comments (4)

I follow the Dodds protocol with my animals. Even if I titred- which I do not- I would still vaccinate for rabies. We see it in wildlife in my town every year or so...

Posted by: JOANNE M PETERSON | January 3, 2012 8:25 PM    Report this comment

Dear Nancy, Thanks for writing this article! It is very important that all pets be vaccinated for rabies (first shot followed by the booster shot). Everyone has an obligation to make sure their dog is immune to rabies for the protection of public health. I don't have a problem with people not over-vaccinating after initial shots. We have a local cat rescue group here in the East Bay which tells people that cats don't get rabies. In their interest to save all feral cats, they recommended that I foster a wild cat in my bathroom and wear gloves to initiate handling. Dispersing this type of information is extremely negligent and hope that nobody puts their kids at risk by following the advice of the uneducated fanatics.

Posted by: Gideon B | December 22, 2011 9:40 AM    Report this comment

I titer all my dogs as well with the exception of rabies since it is required by law. My vet is a big proponent of not over vaccinating which makes me happy.

Posted by: Clarence G | December 20, 2011 11:55 AM    Report this comment

I don't want to OVER vaccinate either and that's why I titer. You absolutely need to make sure your pet is safe because Rabies, Distemper, Parvo, Lepto and all the diseases we vaccinate for are real and still do pose a threat.

Posted by: Dress-A-Bull | December 20, 2011 9:51 AM    Report this comment

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