Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2000
National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc.*
The purpose of this Compendium is to provide rabies information to
veterinarians, public health officials, and others concerned with rabies prevention and control.
These recommendations serve as the basis for animal rabies-control programs
throughout the United States and facilitate standardization of procedures among
jurisdictions, thereby contributing to an effective national rabies-control program. This document
is reviewed annually and revised as necessary. Immunization procedure
recommendations are contained in Part I; all animal rabies vaccines licensed by the United
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and marketed in the United States are listed in
Part II; Part III details the principles of rabies control.
Part I: Recommendations for Parenteral
A. Vaccine Administration
All animal rabies vaccines should be restricted to use by, or under the direct
supervision of, a veterinarian.
B. Vaccine Selection
Part II lists all vaccines licensed by USDA and marketed in the United States at
the time of publication. New vaccine approvals or changes in label specifications
made subsequent to publication should be considered as part of this list. Vaccines used
in state and local rabies-control programs should have a 3-year duration of
immunity. This constitutes the most effective method of increasing the proportion of
immunized dogs and cats in any population.
C. Route of Inoculation
All vaccines must be administered in accordance with the specifications of the
product label or package insert. Adverse reactions and vaccine failures should be
reported to USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Center for Veterinary Biologics
at (800) 752-6255 or by e-mail at CVB@usda.gov.
D. Vaccination of Wildlife and Hybrid Animals
The efficacy of parenteral rabies vaccination of wildlife and hybrids (the offspring
of wild animals crossbred to domestic dogs and cats) has not been established, and
no such vaccine is licensed for these animals. Zoos or research institutions may
establish vaccination programs that attempt to protect valuable animals, but these
programs should not replace appropriate public health activities that protect humans.
E. Accidental Human Exposure to Vaccine
Accidental inoculation might occur during administration of animal rabies
vaccine. Such exposure to vaccines listed in Part II constitutes no rabies hazard.
F. Identification of Vaccinated Animals
All agencies and veterinarians should adopt the standard tag system. This
practice will aid the administration of local, state, national, and international control
procedures. Animal license tags should be distinguishable in shape and color from rabies
tags. Anodized aluminum rabies tags should be no less than 0.064 inches in thickness.
All agencies and veterinarians should use the
National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. Form #51,
Rabies Vaccination Certificate, which can be obtained from vaccine
manufacturers. Computer-generated forms containing the same information are acceptable.
Part II: Rabies vaccines licensed and marketed in the
United States and NASPHV* recommendations, 2000
Part III: Rabies Control
A. Principles of Rabies Control
Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced
into bite wounds, open cuts in skin, or onto mucous membranes.
Human Rabies Prevention.
Rabies in humans can be prevented either
by eliminating exposures to rabid animals or by providing exposed persons
with prompt local treatment of wounds combined with appropriate passive
and active immunization. The rationale for recommending preexposure
and postexposure rabies prophylaxis and details of their administration can be
found in the current recommendations of the Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices (ACIP).** These recommendations, along with information
concerning the current local and regional status of animal rabies and the availability
of human rabies biologics, are available from state health departments.
Local governments should initiate and maintain
effective programs to ensure vaccination of all dogs, cats, and ferrets and to
remove strays and unwanted animals. Such procedures in the United States
have reduced laboratory-confirmed cases of rabies in dogs from 6,949 in 1947 to
113 in 1998. Because more rabies cases are reported annually involving cats (282
in 1998) than dogs, vaccination of cats should be required. The
recommended vaccination procedures and the licensed animal vaccines are specified in
Parts I and II of the Compendium.
Rabies in Wildlife.
The control of rabies among wildlife reservoirs is
difficult. Vaccination of free-ranging wildlife or selective population reduction might
be useful in some situations, but the success of such procedures depends on
the circumstances surrounding each rabies outbreak. (See Part III.C.
Control Methods in Wildlife.)
Evidence of circulating rabies virus neutralizing
antibodies should not be used as a substitute for current vaccination in managing
rabies exposures or determining the need for booster vaccinations.
B. Control Methods in Domestic and Confined Animals
Preexposure Vaccination and
Parenteral animal rabies vaccines should be administered only by, or under the direct supervision of,
a veterinarian. This is the only way to ensure that a responsible person can
be held accountable to assure the public that the animal has been
properly vaccinated. Within 1 month after primary vaccination, a peak rabies
antibody titer is reached, and the animal can be considered immunized. An animal
is currently vaccinated and is considered immunized if the primary
vaccination was administered at least 30 days previously and vaccinations have
been administered in accordance with this Compendium. Regardless of the age
of the animal at initial vaccination, a second vaccination should be administered
1 year later. (See Parts I and II for recommended vaccines and procedures).
Dogs, cats, and ferrets.
All dogs, cats, and ferrets should be
vaccinated against rabies and revaccinated in accordance with Part II of
this Compendium. If a previously vaccinated animal is overdue for a booster,
it should be revaccinated with a single dose of vaccine and placed on an
annual or triennial schedule, depending on the type of vaccine used.
Vaccinating all livestock against rabies is neither
economically feasible nor justified from a public health standpoint. However,
consideration should be given to vaccinate livestock that are particularly valuable or
that might have frequent contact with humans.
No parenteral rabies vaccine is licensed for use in wild
animals. Because of the risk for rabies in wild animals (especially raccoons,
skunks, coyotes, foxes, and bats), the NASPHV, the AVMA, and the CSTE
strongly recommend the enactment of state laws prohibiting the
importation, distribution, relocation, or keeping of wild animals or hybrids as pets.
Maintained in Exhibits and in Zoological
Captive animals that are not completely excluded from all contact with rabies vectors can
become infected. Moreover, wild animals might be incubating rabies when
initially captured; therefore, wild-caught animals susceptible to rabies should
be quarantined for a minimum of 6 months before being
exhibited. Employees who work with animals at such facilities should
receive preexposure rabies vaccination. The use of pre- or postexposure
rabies vaccinations for employees who work with animals at such facilities
might reduce the need for euthanasia of captive animals. Carnivores and
bats should be housed in a manner that precludes direct contact with
Stray dogs, cats, and ferrets should be removed from
the community. Local health departments and animal-control officials can
enforce the removal of strays more effectively if owned animals are confined or kept
on leash. Strays should be impounded for at least 3 days to determine if
human exposure has occurred and to give owners sufficient time to reclaim animals.
Importation and Interstate Movement of Animals.
CDC regulates the importation of dogs and cats into the
United States, but current Public Health Service regulations (42 CFR No.
71.51) governing the importation of such animals are insufficient to prevent
the introduction of rabid animals into the country. All dogs and cats
imported from countries with endemic rabies should be currently vaccinated
against rabies as recommended in this Compendium. The appropriate public
health official of the state of destination should be notified within 72 hours of
any unvaccinated dog or cat imported into his or her jurisdiction. The
conditional admission of such animals into the United States is subject to state and
local laws governing rabies. Failure to comply with these requirements should
be promptly reported to the Division of Quarantine, CDC, (404) 639-8107.
. Before interstate movement, dogs, cats, and ferrets should
be currently vaccinated against rabies in accordance with the
Compendium's recommendations (See Part III.B.1. Preexposure Vaccination
and Management). Animals in transit should be accompanied by a currently
valid NASPHV Form #51, Rabies Vaccination Certificate. When an interstate
health certificate or certificate of veterinary inspection is required, it should
contain the same rabies vaccination information as Form #51.
. Methods or procedures that enhance rabies control
include the following:
Registration or licensure of all dogs, cats, and ferrets may be
used to aid in rabies control. A fee is frequently charged for such licensure,
and revenues collected are used to maintain rabies- or animal-control
programs. Vaccination is an essential prerequisite to licensure.
Canvassing of Area.
House-to-house canvassing by animal-control
personnel facilitates enforcement of vaccination and licensure requirements.
Citations are legal summonses issued to owners for
violations, including the failure to vaccinate or license their animals. The authority
for officers to issue citations should be an integral part of each
All communities should incorporate stray animal
control, leash laws, and training of personnel in their programs.
Any animal potentially exposed to rabies virus
(See Part III.A.1. Rabies Exposure) by a wild, carnivorous mammal or a bat that is
not available for testing should be regarded as having been exposed to rabies.
Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets.
Unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to
a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner is unwilling
to have this done, the animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6
months and vaccinated 1 month before being released. Animals with
expired vaccinations need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Dogs, cats,
and ferrets that are currently vaccinated should be revaccinated
immediately, kept under the owner's control, and observed for 45 days.
All species of livestock are susceptible to rabies; cattle and
horses are among the most frequently infected. Livestock exposed to a rabid
animal and currently vaccinated with a vaccine approved by USDA for that
species should be revaccinated immediately and observed for 45 days.
Unvaccinated livestock should be slaughtered immediately. If the owner is unwilling
to have this done, the animal should be kept under close observation
for 6 months. The following are recommendations for owners of
unvaccinated livestock exposed to rabid animals:
If the animal is slaughtered within 7 days of being bitten, its tissues
may be eaten without risk for infection, provided that liberal portions of
the exposed area are discarded. Federal meat inspectors must reject
for slaughter any animal known to have been exposed to rabies
within 8 months.
Neither tissues nor milk from a rabid animal should be used for
human or animal consumption. Pasteurization temperatures will inactivate
rabies virus; therefore, drinking pasteurized milk or eating cooked meat
does not constitute a rabies exposure.
Having more than one rabid animal in a herd or having
herbivore-to-herbivore transmission is rare; therefore, restricting the rest of the herd
if a single animal has been exposed to or infected by rabies might not
Other animals bitten by a rabid animal should be
euthanized immediately. Animals maintained in USDA-licensed research facilities
or accredited zoological parks should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Management of Animals That Bite Humans.
A healthy dog, cat, or ferret that bites a person should be confined
and observed daily for 10 days; administration of rabies vaccine is
not recommended during the observation period. Such animals should
be evaluated by a veterinarian at the first sign of illness during
confinement. Any illness in the animal should be reported immediately to the local
health department. If signs suggestive of rabies develop, the animal should
be euthanized, its head removed, and the head shipped under refrigeration
(not frozen) for examination of the brain by a qualified laboratory designated
by the local or state health department. Any stray or unwanted dog, cat,
or ferret that bites a person may be euthanized immediately and the
head submitted as described above for rabies examination.
Other biting animals that might have exposed a person to rabies should
be reported immediately to the local health department. Prior vaccination of
an animal might not preclude the necessity for euthanasia and testing if
the period of virus shedding is unknown for that species. Management of
animals other than dogs, cats, and ferrets depends on the species, the
circumstances of the bite, the epidemiology of rabies in the area, and the biting
animal's history, current health status, and potential for exposure to rabies.
C. Control Methods in Wildlife
The public should be warned not to handle wildlife. Wild mammals and hybrids
that bite or otherwise expose persons, pets, or livestock should be considered for
euthanasia and rabies examination. A person bitten by any wild mammal should
immediately report the incident to a physician who can evaluate the need for antirabies
treatment (See current rabies prophylaxis recommendations of the ACIP***). State-regulated
wildlife rehabilitators may play a role in a comprehensive rabies-control program.
Minimum standards for persons who rehabilitate wild mammals should include receipt
of rabies vaccination, appropriate training, and continuing education.
The use of licensed oral vaccines for the
mass immunization of free-ranging wildlife should be considered in
selected situations, with the approval of the state agency responsible for animal
rabies control. Continuous and persistent government-funded programs for
trapping or poisoning wildlife are not cost effective in reducing wildlife rabies
reservoirs on a statewide basis. However, limited control in high-contact areas (e.g.,
picnic grounds, camps, or suburban areas) may be indicated for the removal
of selected high-risk species of wildlife. The state wildlife agency and state
health department should be consulted for coordination of any proposed
vaccination or population-reduction programs.
Indigenous rabid bats have been reported from every state except
Hawaii and have caused rabies in at least 33 humans in the United States. Bats
should be excluded from houses and adjacent structures to prevent direct
association with humans. Such structures should then be made bat-proof by
sealing entrances used by bats. Controlling rabies in bats by programs designed
to reduce bat populations is neither feasible nor desirable.
* THE NASPHV COMMITTEE: Suzanne R. Jenkins, VMD, MPH, Chair; Michael Auslander,
DVM, MSPH; Lisa Conti, DVM, MPH; Robert H. Johnson, DVM; Mira J. Leslie, DVM; Faye E.
Sorhage, VMD, MPH. CONSULTANTS TO THE COMMITTEE: Deborah J. Briggs, PhD; Kansas
State University Rabies Laboratory; James E. Childs, ScD, CDC; Mary Currier, MD, MPH, Council
of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE); Nancy Frank, DVM, MPH, American
Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary
Medicine; Barry Watson, DVM, Animal Health Institute; Robert B. Miller, DVM, MPH, Animal and
Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture; Charles E. Rupprecht,
VMD, PhD, CDC; Charles V. Trimarchi, MS, New York State Health Department. ENDORSED BY:
AVMA and CSTE.
Address all correspondence to: Suzanne R. Jenkins, VMD, MPH, Virginia Department of
Health, Office of Epidemiology, P.O. Box 2448, Room 113, Richmond, VA 23218.
** CDC. Human rabies prevention---United States, 1999: recommendations of the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 1999;48(No. RR-1).
*** CDC. Human rabies prevention---United States, 1999: recommendations of the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 1999;48(No. RR-1).
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