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Jefferson City, Missouri Rabies Law-- Action Alert


On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund Duration of Immunity Study for Rabies Vaccine - Rabies Challenge Fund and pet owners in Jefferson City, Missouri, I have sent the letter below in an effort to change the city's annual rabies booster requirement to the national 3 year standard.


What You Can Do to Help:


Contact the Mayor jlandwehr@jeffcitymo.org (573) 634-6304 and City Council (573) 634-6311 fergusk@lincolnu.edu; kferguson@jeffcitymo.org; mharvey@jeffcitymo.org; rkoon@jeffcitymo.org; jpenfold@jeffcitymo.org; bscrivner@jeffcitymo.org; bpope@jeffcitymo.org; estruemph@jeffcitymo.org; ccarroll@jeffcitymo.org; dklindt@jeffcitymo.org; rmedin@jeffcitymo.org and ask them to change the annual rabied booster requirement to conform to the 3 year protocol recommended by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Rabies Compendium and ask your pet-owning friends to do the same.




Letter to Jefferson City Mayor


February 5, 2010


Mayor John Landwehr

City of Jefferson

John G. Christy Municipal Building

320 East McCarty

Jefferson City, MO 65101


RE: Chapter 5 Article III. RABIES CONTROL Section 5-45. Vaccination of Dogs, Cats


Greetings Mayor Landwehr:


Jefferson City’s Ordinance Chapter 5 Article III. RABIES CONTROL Section 5-45. Vaccination of Dogs, Cats mandating annual rabies vaccinations is counter to the recommendations of the American Veterinary Medical Association[1] and the Center for Disease Control’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarian’s Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control 2008 which states that, “Vaccines used in state and local rabies control programs should have at least a 3-year duration of immunity. This constitutes the most effective method of increasing the proportion of immunized dogs and cats in any population (50).” They specifically warn that, “[n]o laboratory or epidemiologic data exist to support the annual or biennial administration of 3- or 4-year vaccines following the initial series.”


This ordinance mandating that the “rabies vaccination shall be valid for a period of one year from the date of vaccination,” overrides Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 322, Section 322.010 Protection Against Rabies, defining "immunized" as being “immunized against rabies at the expense of the owner or custodian by the administration of antirabic virus by a licensed veterinarian,” and for which the Department of Health defers to the recommendations of the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control under “Vaccination of Animals” in their Rabies Surveillance.


It is recognized that most, if not all, currently licensed annual rabies vaccines given annually are actually the 3-year vaccine relabeled for annual use -- Colorado State University's Small Animal Vaccination Protocol for its veterinary teaching hospital states: “Even with rabies vaccines, the label may be misleading in that a three year duration of immunity product may also be labeled and sold as a one year duration of immunity product.” According to Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, whose canine vaccine studies form a large part of the scientific base for the 2003 and 2006 American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Guidelines, as well as the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s 2007 Vaccine Guidelines, “There is no benefit from annual rabies vaccination and most one year rabies products are similar or identical to the 3-year products with regard to duration of immunity and effectiveness.” [2]


Jefferson City’s ordinance requiring annual rabies boosters may have been intended to achieve enhanced immunity to the rabies virus by giving the vaccine more often than the federal 3-year licensing standard, but, more frequent vaccination than is required to fully immunize an animal will not achieve further disease protection. Redundant annual rabies shots needlessly expose dogs and cats to the risk of adverse effects while obligating residents to pay unnecessary veterinary medical fees. The American Veterinary Medical Association's 2001 Principles of Vaccination state that “Unnecessary stimulation of the immune system does not result in enhanced disease resistance, and may increase the risk of adverse post-vaccination events.” The current rabies immunization ordinance may violate Missouri’s consumer protection laws by requiring pet owners to pay for a yearly veterinary medical procedure from which their animals derive no benefit and may be harmed.


Immunologically, rabies vaccines are the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and “are the most common group of biological products identified in adverse event reports received by the CVB [Center for Veterinary Biologics]."[3] They are associated with significant adverse reactions such as polyneuropathy “resulting in muscular atrophy, inhibition or interruption of neuronal control of tissue and organ function, incoordination, and weakness.”[4] Auto-immune hemolytic anemia,[5] autoimmune diseases affecting the thyroid, joints, blood, eyes, skin, kidney, liver, bowel, and central nervous system; anaphylactic shock; aggression; seizures; epilepsy; and fibrosarcomas at injection sites are all linked to the rabies vaccine. [6] [7] It is medically unsound for this vaccine to be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity.


According to a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association[8] in 2005, the risk of an allergic reaction has been documented to "increase after the third or fourth injection of a vaccine (i.e., a booster response)" and is "inversely related to a dog's weight," indicating that Jefferson City’s annual rabies protocol exposes its domestic dogs, especially small breeds and puppies, to unnecessary potential harm by mandating medically redundant rabies boosters.


Research indicates that “the rabies vaccine may be the most oncogenic. After 1996, when specific locations could be associated with specific vaccines, the right rear limb, which is the recommended site of rabies vaccination, was the most common site of injection-site sarcomas. "[9] A “killed” vaccine, the rabies vaccine contains adjuvants to enhance the immunological response. In 1999, the World Health Organization “classified veterinary vaccine adjuvants as Class III/IV carcinogens with Class IV being the highest risk,"[10] and the results of a study published in the August 2003 Journal of Veterinary Medicine documenting fibrosarcomas at the presumed injection sites of rabies vaccines stated, “In both dogs and cats, the development of necrotizing panniculitis at sites of rabies vaccine administration was first observed by Hendrick & Dunagan (1992).” [11] According to the 2003 AAHA Guidelines, "...killed vaccines are much more likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., immune-mediated disease)." [12]


County officials should note data indicating that compliance rates are no higher in areas with annual rabies immunization requirements than in those with triennial protocols. A 2002 report compiled by the Banfield Corporation for the Texas Department of Health on rabies vaccination rates determined that a “comparison of the one-year states and the three-year states demonstrates no difference in the delinquency rates” and that, “A paucity of scientific data exists to demonstrate a clear public health benefit of a one-year vaccination protocol versus a three-year vaccination protocol.” [13]


On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund and Jefferson City pet owners who have contacted us with concerns about the city’s annual rabies booster requirement for dogs and cats, we strongly urge you to amend Chapter 5 Article III Section 5-45 to conform to the 3-year national standard recommended by the Center for Disease Control’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. We also respectfully request that medical exemption language be inserted into the code.



Kris L. Christine

Founder, Co-Trustee





cc: Drs. W. Jean Dodds and Ronald Schultz

Jefferson City Council





[1] American Veterinary Medical Association, Veterinary Biologics, June 2007, “Rabies Vaccination Procedures”


[2] Schultz, Ronald D.; What Everyone Needs to Know about Canine Vaccines, October 2007, http://www.puliclub.org/CHF/AKC2007Conf/Wh...%20Vaccines.htm


[3] Frana, Timothy, et als. Postmarketing Surveillance of Rabies Vaccines for Dogs to Evaluate Safety and Efficacy, The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association April 1, 2008 issue, Vol. 232, No. 7


[4] Dodds, W. Jean Vaccination Protocols for Dogs Predisposed to Vaccine Reactions, The Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, May/June 2001, Vol. 37, pp. 211-214


[5] Duval D., Giger U.Vaccine-Associated Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia in the Dog, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 1996; 10:290-295


[6] American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Executive Board, April 2001, Principles of Vaccination, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Volume 219, No. 5, September 1, 2001.


[7] Vascelleri, M. Fibrosarcomas at Presumed Sites of Injection in Dogs: Characteristics and Comparison with Non-vaccination Site Fibrosarcomas and Feline Post-vaccinal Fibrosarcomas; Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Series A August 2003, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 286-291.


[8] Moore, George E. et als., Adverse events diagnosed within three days of Vaccine Administration in Dogs, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol 227, No. 7, October 1, 2005


[9]Meler, Erika & Pressler, Barrak; Research Updates: Investigating the Impact of Vaccine Administration Site Changes in Cats DVM360 October 1, 2009


[10] IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans: Volume 74, World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Feb. 23-Mar. 2, 1999, p. 24, 305, 310.


[11] Vascelleri, M. Fibrosarcomas at Presumed Sites of Injection in Dogs: Characteristics and Comparison with Non-vaccination Site Fibrosarcomas and Feline Post-vaccinal Fibrosarcomas; Journal of Veterinary Medicine, Series A August 2003, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 286-291.


[12] American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, 28pp. and ibid. 2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Revised, 28 pp.


[13] Texas Department of Public Health, Zoonosis Control; The White Paper, Options for Rabies Vaccination of Dogs and Cats in Texas, 2002

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