Thursday, March 16, 2017

Canine Rabies Vaccines

It's that time of the year again...pre-cherry blossom? Well, that too, but the envelopes with the forms for mandatory annual rabies vaccination came in the post from city hall. Every year I pop over to my local park on a specified day to have the jags done courtesy of neighborhood vets, short and sweet procedure, costs roughly 100 US dollars total for my three pups. I get three numbered rabies tags to attach to the dogs' collars for proof of vaccination.
Without these legally required shots they cannot use dog runs or doggie hotels, and of course we wouldn't have a leg to stand on in case of any trouble, say if they slipped the leash and happened to scare someone in the park.  
According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association January 2016 Guidelines  in their Canine Vaccination Guidelines (pp7~11), rabies vaccinations are now good for three years, and vets should be working to update laws on vaccination to meet this new understanding. The authors of the paper are vets from the UK, the Netherlands, USA and Australia. 
Particular mention should be made of canine rabies vaccines. The VGG recommends that in any country in which canine rabies is endemic, vaccination of dogs should be strongly recommended to clients by veterinarians, even if not required by law. Revaccination intervals for canine rabies are often mandated by law. Internationally available killed rabies vaccines were initially produced with a licensed 1-year DOI and so statutes required annual revaccination. These same products now carry a 3-year DOI in many countries, where laws have been modified to incorporate this change. However, in some countries the legal requirement is at odds with the vaccine license and in others neither the vaccine license, nor the law, has been changed. Finally, some countries also have locally-manufactured rabies vaccines with a 1-year DOI that most likely cannot safely be extended to 3 years. Veterinarians should be mindful of the law, but where they have access to a product that confers a minimum of 3-years immunity, national associations might lobby to have the laws changed to match the current scientific evidence.
I found an impassioned video of a US vet pleading for better legislation in the US, shared by Dr. Karen Becker. So what's happening in Japan? I called my vet, Dr. Koyama to find out. I understood that while there was indeed knowledge of global three year vaccination trends here, for various reasons including bureaucratic and strong cultural protocols of societal safety awareness (...which you'd wish they'd apply to nuclear energy, but that's another story...), Japan still only offers one year vaccines. Doses are the same for all size dogs, this goes for all types of vaccination, not just rabies. Titering awareness and practices are also simply not widespread or readily available. Dr. Koyama is careful to write exemptions for pets whose health make the choice of vaccinating dangerous: I delivered these exemptions in lieu of vaccination to city hall in dear departed Chiaro di Luna's case. 
Looks like not much will change in the land of the Rising Sun for the time being...see you all, canine friends big and small, in the park in April!

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