Time Out: rabies researchers assess new, long-lasting vaccine

Researchers evaluating a new, yet to be licensed rabies vaccine are attempting to demonstrate that the minimum duration of immunity (DOI) for this product is five to seven years--significantly longer than one to three year DOI for most other rabies vaccines currently available.

Dr. Ronald Schultz, MS, PhD, Dip ACVM, professor and Chair of the Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin and lead researcher for the Canine Rabies Challenge Studies explains, “Our goal is to vaccinate only as often as necessary and only with those vaccines that are required to protect the health of the animal.” 

This project, which involves challenge studies and serological (antibody) tests, is anticipated to generate data that will enable researchers to make scientifically valid recommendations regarding the most appropriate usage of rabies vaccines.

But once licensed, will this vaccine and vaccination protocol be widely adopted or will it ultimately become an on-demand service for ultra-educated clients?

According to Schultz, “Veterinarians are likely to respond favorably to an effective five or seven year rabies vaccine similar to the response that has occurred to the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.”

A rabies vaccine and vaccination schedule with a seven year DOI will reduce the number of animals that develop adverse reactions following immunization, which is currently estimated to be 1-3% of the population.

“The number of animals that develop a reaction to environmental allergens or self antigens as a result of the non-specific stimulation of the immune response from adjuvants used in killed rabies is likely to decrease when fewer doses of vaccine are used,” says Schultz.

In terms of price, Schultz speculates that a vaccine that provides better or longer immunity may be something the client will have to pay more for, but the cost of vaccines is typically minor compared to many of the other services provided by the veterinarian during an annual wellness examination.

More information on the Rabies Challenge Studies, a privately funded research project, is available at www.rabieschallengefund.org.

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