Rabies, according to the CDC, is an infectious viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and causes acute encephalitis in mammals. A zoonotic disease, rabies can be spread between species, for example, from infected animals to human beings. The animals that most frequently contract rabies are bats, raccoons, foxes, and skunks. Only rarely are dogs are infected, as a result of widespread and mandatory vaccination protocols. Rabies is almost always fatal unless PEP (postexposure prophylaxis) aka post-exposure prophylaxis, an anti-retroviral treatment designed to halt the disease's progression, is administered shortly after exposure.
While no sane person wishes to become afflicted with the rabies virus, hundreds upon thousands of dog owners are (rightfully) concerned about the adverse affects of the rabies vaccine when given unnecessarily. Which just might be more often than the average dog owner suspects.
The rabies vaccine is without question the one vaccine most likely to cause adverse affects in the dogs who are its recipients. Just ask Dr. Jean Dodds. This is a huge concern for dog owners, particularly those whose dogs have shown such adverse reactions. Adverse reactions vary from dog to dog, but may include such behaviors as unexplained behavioral changes such as aggression, sudden onset of allergies (particularly skin allergies), seizures, digestive disorders, cancers at the site of injection, muscle weakness, autoimmune disease(s) and even death. In some cases dogs will suffer anaphylactic shock following vaccination. An anaphylactic reaction occurs when an animal's immune system becomes sensitized to an antigen. Symptoms include respiratory difficulty breathing, urination, defecation and vomiting. If epinephrine is not administered immediately, the animal may die.
Because rabies vaccines are mandatory, you'd think that the number of adverse reactions would spur one of the major vaccine companies to do an efficacy study to see exactly how long a rabies vaccine, properly boostered, lasts. However none have stepped up to the plate. Could this be because the discovery that the immunity conferred lasts much longer than is currently believed, and that this vaccine represents a significant portion of both the vaccine company and the average veterinarian's bread and butter? Perhaps.
Enter the Rabies Challenge Fund. The Rabies Challenge fund is an immunity study designed to investigate the immunity duration of the rabies vaccine. It is currently in its sixth year (of seven). This study is unique in that it has been funded in its entirely by the general (dog loving) public. The researchers responsible for the study fully believe that they will discover what is already believed by most knowledgeable professionals, that the efficacy of the rabies vaccine, boostered once, is a minimum of five years, (and most likely seven). The link to donate to the Rabies Challenge Fund, should you wish to become a part of this important work, is here.
This Rabies Challenge and its results should be a cause at the heart of every dog loving owner in America. The study seeks to prove that dogs need only be vaccinated once for rabies (at around or shortly after the age of four months) and boostered once, a year later. An additional booster may be necessary in some cases at around middle age (for a dog, five to seven years). Today, however, depending upon the state in which one lives, boosters are required either annually or every three years, which greatly increases the possibility of and opportunity for, adverse reactions.
By becoming educated about this important issue, you are better able to make life decisions for your dog that will result not only in the prevention of disease, but also, of a higher quality of life. Consider donating your unused change to this one of a kind, not to be denied, totally worthwhile cause!