Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rabies case in Florida

A sad story from Florida illustrating the importance of keeping Rabies vaccinations up to date. The dog involved in this case had not been vaccinated in 7 years, and contracted Rabies after being exposed to a raccoon. Two other dogs in the house were apparently not currently vaccinated and had to be euthanized, and the entire family is undergoing post-exposure treatment for Rabies. Some folks insist that a single Rabies vaccine is effective for life-this case illustrates (along with other evidence of declining immunity after 3-4 years) that that idea is potentially disastrously wrong. While it is worth studying the duration of immunity conferred from rabies vaccines, and the 3 year requirement may be somewhat arbitrary, immunity does decline over time, and modern rabies vaccines are a very safe, inexpensive form of protection against a deadly disease. It is not safe to assume that all vaccines are equally effective, and individual and breed variations in response to vaccination mean that while some dogs may have immunity for many years, others need more frequent boosters. This individual variation is the reason for the common 3 year booster requirement for dogs-while some dogs have immunity that lasts longer than this, some will start to lose protective immunity around this time.