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Yesterday, I received the current rabies waiver guidelines from the MVMA(Maine Veterinary Medical Association). As it stands, where I practice, we make clients sign rabies refusal forms if they will not vaccinate their pets for rabies. The state vet(Don Hoenig) addressed the rabies titer question in our newsletter. He quoted from the compendium: "Titers do not directly correlate with protection because other immunologic factors also play a role in preventing rabies, and our abilities to measure and interpret those factors are not well-developed. Therefore, evidence of circulating rabies virus antibodies in animals should not be used as a substitute for current vaccination in managing rabies exposures or determining the need for booster vaccinations". More info can be found at NASPHV. In his letter to all of the members, he says:"In closing, I need to reiterate that the rabies waiver rule only allows for an exemption based on medical reasons. Furthermore, all licensed Maine veterinarians need to realize that granting blanket rabies vaccinations based on a philosophical belief that animals are being over-vaccinated or substituting rabies titers for vaccinations, is not only misguided but against the law in our state".

There are certain medical situations where I no longer vaccinate certain pets. These are situations of impending fatal anaphylaxis or auto immune problems.
In the state of Maine, rabies is endemic in the bat population. I have had situations where someone has left an unscreened back window open in my house and a bat has gotten in... One year, we had three bats in five days and I had a litter of pups in the house. We finally figured it out, but I continued to sleep the next five weeks with the pups with the light on..

With my pets, if I vaccinated for nothing else, it would be rabies.
 

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thanks for sharing that!
 
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We had a medical exemption for Cody once when he was just getting over AIHA. Otherwise, while we titer him for other things, he gets his rabies vax every 3 years.
 
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I understand the concern for over vaccinating, but when you are talking about an always fatal disease with no treatment option at all for dogs that contract it, there's no debate in my opinion.
 

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Barkley would have been exempted (if we had wanted one) in 2010 had he lived long enough because of his cancer diagnosis. There are increasing reports of wild animals testing positive for rabies in our geographical area (mostly skunks and bats). I'd never want to risk it for rabies.
 

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I agree with not wanting a risk, but am sure glad that many more vets in our area are going with the 3 year protocol instead of the annual.
 

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I am never willing to risk my animals coming into contact with a rabid animal if they were to be unvaccinated. Not only do we have very stringent laws here in NC, I would never forgive myself for allowing them to be exposed if unvaccinated. My cats are all indoor and seniors. They get no vaccinations other than rabies.

Oh, and we have had the three year protocol here for over 20 years. First year is a one-year and from there on out, it's a three-year. Same for cats, except my vet went back to the one-year protocol on them due to cancer concerns in the three-year vaccine for cats.
 

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We have had the three year protocol here in Lincoln for as long as I can remember.

It was always that way in AZ when I was growing up, but for a long time here it was annual. The state law said 3 year, but left it up to the counties which left it up to cities ( if I remember right). We actually changed vets over the issue since the fine print left the decision up to the vet.
 
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In our state it's now a 3 year protocol but individual counties can require yearly vaccinations.

Here is some interesting information about Rabies:
Rabies

You can be infected with the rabies virus if you are bitten by an animal that has the disease. You can also get rabies if the saliva from a rabid animal gets in your eyes, nose, or mouth. This can happen if you get saliva on your fingers and then touch your face. Another way you can get rabies is by having the saliva of a rabid animal contact open cuts on your skin. If you have such contact with a rabid animal, only a series of injections (shots) can keep you from getting the disease. For this treatment to work well, it must be given soon after contact with the rabid animal.

If you are bitten

If an animal bites you, follow these steps. They may save your life.

Quickly and thoroughly wash the bite with soap and water. Rinse it well. Put an antiseptic on it to kill germs.
See a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will decide if you need treatment to prevent rabies.
Describe the animal that bit you – the kind, size, and color – to the doctor, local rabies control authority, or animal control officer. Tell children to get help from a teacher, nurse, parent, policeman, school guard, or other adult. Try to locate the animal or keep track of it if you know where it lives. Remember what it looked like and where it can be found.
The local rabies control authority needs to have any biting dog, cat, or domestic ferret tested for rabies or observed for 10 days. If the quarantined dog, cat, or domestic ferret is alive 10 days after the bite, it could not have given you rabies. If the animal shows signs of rabies or dies during the observation period, it must be tested for rabies.
Biting skunks, bats, foxes, coyotes, and raccoons must be tested for rabies. If you are bitten by another kind of animal, the local rabies control authority will decide if it needs to be tested or observed for rabies.

How to prevent rabies

By law, you must have a veterinarian vaccinate your dogs and cats against rabies. Ask a veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your pet. Keeping your pets vaccinated protects you and them.
Restrain your pets; do not allow them to roam.
Avoid contact with wild animals and with dogs and cats you do not know. Do not approach strange dogs or cats. Do not try to hand-feed wild animals and do not keep them as pets.
Do not touch sick or injured animals. Call and report them to an animal control officer.
It is very important that everyone, especially children, know how to prevent rabies.

Important facts about rabid animals

If a pet is infected with the rabies virus, the way it acts may change. A friendly dog might want to be alone. A shy dog might want attention. Rabid dogs often become mean, roam, make strange noises and attack people and other animals. Rabid animals may drool, and they sometimes swallow stones, sticks, or other things.

Later, as the rabid animal gets even sicker, it might have trouble chewing, swallowing, drinking or walking. It may not be able to close its mouth, and may appear to be choking. Never try to clear the throat of an animal with these signs. If you see an animal acting this way, call the local animal control agency right away.

Signs of rabies include:

Animals that have a change in behavior.
Wild animals which seem to be friendly or tame.
Wild animals – coyotes, foxes, bats, skunks, and raccoons – which you do not usually see in the daytime.
Animals that have a hard time walking, eating, or drinking.
Excitement or meanness in animals.
Animals that bite or scratch at an old wound until it bleeds.
source: Texas Department of State Health Services, Infectious Disease Control Unit > Pamphlet
 

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I should add my husband was bitten by a feral cat rescuing it from the jaws of our Barkley. He went into a bush on a walk and came out with this cat in his mouth. We went to a doc in the box to get stitches, and antibiotics. By law the physician was required to report the bite to the county. At 9 a.m., when we arrived home, the County Health Department was on the phone encouraging him to get the rabies shots. It turned out easier said than done because the vaccine must be kept under strict conditions and no private physician wants to take the risk. Only one hospital in our county had the vaccine (Medical City- Dallas), so we went to the ER there to get him seen. The physician didn't think the shots were necessary, and we ended up getting the County Health Director involved. Hubby got the series of shots and gamma globulin injections.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
My indoor Siamese boy, Runtman, lived to be 17 years... At the end the only vaccine I bothered with was rabies..
 

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I was watching one of the medical tv dramas recently where they had a case of a person with rabies. They said by the time symptoms appear it is too late and the result is death. If that is indeed true, I am with the county health department and would say get the treatment if there is even a chance you could get rabies, and by all means vaccinate you pets against it. Oh, and can they vaccinate people against rabies?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Yes,I am rabies vaccinated. Does that make me feel safe? Absolutely not!,,,, and currently, practices don't vaccinate for rabies because prophylaxis is out of
pocket vs post exposure treatment which comes out of insurance.
 

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We have always used a three year vaccine. The state,when I first started, required dogs to be vaccinated every two years and cats annually. Now dogs are every three years and cats yearly due to the non adjuvented vaccine .
 

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Apparently, the first case of rabies in 75 years has been found in Mass. It was through a bat....
 

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Guess I won't be putting out bat houses so they will eat all the bugs in my gardem. My daughter had a bat get into her house, now we both live in the center city, when there was a crawlspace under her house open for the plumber. That is enough for this batty ole grandma.
 

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I understand the concern for over vaccinating, but when you are talking about an always fatal disease with no treatment option at all for dogs that contract it, there's no debate in my opinion.
The debate in my mind is why I am required to give a vaccine to my dog every year when it is in a label that says it's good for three years, and the only reason I can be given by vets is that the local government depends on the money the vaccine generates. I wouldn't give any other kind of medication to my dog more frequently than suggested just so the police jury could have steady income.
 
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