Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2005*
National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc. (NASPHV)
The material in this report originated in the National Center for Infectious Diseases, Anne Schuchat, MD, Acting Director, and the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases, James W. LeDuc, PhD, Director.
Rabies is a fatal viral zoonosis and a serious public health problem
(1). The recommendations in this compendium serve
as the basis for animal rabies prevention and control programs throughout the United States and facilitate standardization
of procedures among jurisdictions, thereby contributing to an effective national rabies-control program. This document
reviewed annually and revised as necessary. Principles of rabies prevention and control are detailed in Part I; Part II
contains recommendations for parenteral vaccination procedures; all animal rabies vaccines licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and marketed in the United States are listed in Part III.
Part I: Rabies Prevention and Control
A. Principles of Rabies Prevention and Control.
- Rabies Exposure. Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into bite wounds, open cuts in skin, or
onto mucous membranes from saliva or other potentially
infectious material such as neural tissue
(2). Questions about possible exposures should be directed to state or local health authorities.
- 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 the administration of human
rabies immune globulin and vaccine. 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) (2). These recommendations, along with information concerning the current local
and regional epidemiology of animal rabies and the availability of human rabies biologics, are available from state
- Domestic Animals. 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 117 in 2003
(3). Because more rabies cases are reported annually involving cats (321 in 2003) than dogs, vaccination of cats should be required. Animal shelters and animal control authorities should establish policies to ensure that adopted animals are vaccinated against rabies.
The recommended vaccination procedures and the licensed animal vaccines are specified in Parts II and III of
- Rabies in Vaccinated Animals. Rabies is rare in vaccinated animals
(4). If such an event is suspected, it should
be reported to state public health officials, the vaccine manufacturer, and USDA, Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service, Center for Veterinary Biologics
(Internet: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/cvb/ic/adverseeventreport.htm; telephone: 800-752-6255; or e-mail: CVB@usda.gov). The laboratory diagnosis should be confirmed and the virus characterized by
a rabies reference laboratory. A thorough epidemiologic investigation should be conducted.
- Rabies in Wildlife. The control of rabies among wildlife reservoirs is difficult
(5). 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 I. C. Control Methods in Wildlife). Because of the risk
of rabies in wild animals (especially raccoons, skunks, coyotes, foxes, and bats), AVMA, NASPHV, and CSTE
strongly recommend the enactment and enforcement of state laws prohibiting their importation, distribution, and relocation.
- Rabies Surveillance. Laboratory-based rabies surveillance is an essential component of rabies control and
prevention programs. Accurate and timely information is necessary to guide human postexposure prophylaxis decisions, determine the management of potentially exposed animals, aid in emerging pathogen discovery, describe the epidemiology of the disease, and assess the need for and effectiveness of oral vaccination
programs for wildlife.
- Rabies Diagnosis. Rabies testing should be performed by a qualified laboratory that has been designated by the local
or state health department (6) in accordance with the established national standardized protocol for rabies testing (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/Professional/publications/DFA_diagnosis/DFA_protocol-b.htm ). Euthanasia
(7) should be accomplished in such a way as to maintain the integrity of the brain so that the laboratory can recognize the anatomical parts. Except in the case of very small animals, such as bats, only the head or brain (including brain
stem) should be submitted to the laboratory. Any animal or animal specimen being submitted for testing should be kept
under refrigeration (not frozen or chemically fixed) during storage and shipping.
- Rabies Serology. Some "rabies-free" jurisdictions may require evidence of vaccination and rabies antibodies
for importation purposes. Rabies antibody titers are indicative of an animal's response to vaccine or infection. Titers do
not directly correlate with protection because other immunologic factors also play a role in preventing rabies, and our abilities to measure and interpret those other factors are not well developed. Therefore, evidence of circulating rabies virus antibodies should not be used as a substitute for current vaccination in managing rabies exposures or determining the need for booster vaccinations in animals
B. Prevention and Control Methods in Domestic and
- Preexposure Vaccination and Management. Parenteral animal rabies vaccines should be administered only by or
under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Rabies
vaccinations may also be administered under the supervision of
a veterinarian to animals held in animal control shelters prior to release. Any veterinarian signing a rabies certificate must ensure that the person administering vaccine is identified on the certificate and is appropriately trained in vaccine storage, handling, and administration and in the management of adverse events. This practice ensures that a qualified and responsible person can be held accountable to ensure that the animal has been properly vaccinated.
Within 28 days 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 28 days previously and vaccinations have been administered in accordance with this compendium.
Regardless of the age of the animal at initial vaccination, a booster vaccination should be administered 1 year later (see Parts II and III for vaccines and procedures). No laboratory or epidemiologic data exist to support the annual or biennial administration of 3-year vaccines following the initial series. Because a rapid anamnestic response is expected, an animal is considered currently vaccinated immediately after a booster vaccination.
a. Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets. All dogs, cats, and ferrets should be vaccinated against rabies and revaccinated in
accordance with Part III of this compendium. If a previously vaccinated animal is overdue for a booster, it should be
revaccinated. Immediately following the booster, the animal is considered currently vaccinated and should be placed on an annual or triennial schedule depending on the type of vaccine used.
b. Livestock. Consideration should be given to vaccinating livestock that are particularly valuable or that might
have frequent contact with humans (e.g., in petting zoos, fairs, and other public exhibitions)
(9,10). Horses traveling interstate should be currently vaccinated against rabies.
c. Confined Animals.
No parenteral rabies vaccines are licensed for use in wild animals or hybrids (the offspring of wild
animals crossbred to domestic animals). Wild animals or hybrids should not be kept as pets
2) Maintained in Exhibits and in Zoological Parks.
Captive mammals 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 the public.
- Stray Animals. 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 have identification and are confined or kept on leash. Strays should be impounded for at least 3 business 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. Importers of dogs must
comply with rabies vaccination requirements (42 CFR, Part 71.51[c] [http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/animal.htm])
and complete CDC form 75.37 (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/pdf/cdc7537-05-24-04.pdf). The appropriate
health official of the state of destination should be notified within 72 hours of the arrival into his or her jurisdiction of any imported dog required to be placed in confinement under the CDC regulation. Failure to comply with
these requirements should be promptly reported to the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, CDC (telephone:
Federal regulations alone are insufficient to prevent the introduction of rabid animals into the country
(15,16). All imported dogs and cats are subject to state and local laws governing rabies and should be currently vaccinated against rabies in accordance with this compendium. Failure to comply with state or local requirements should be referred
to the appropriate state or local official.
b. Interstate. Before interstate (including commonwealths and territories) movement, dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses
should be currently vaccinated against rabies in accordance with the compendium's recommendations (see Part I.
B.1. Preexposure Vaccination and Management). Animals in transit should be
accompanied by a currently valid NASPHV Form 51, Rabies Vaccination Certificate
(http://www.nasphv.org/83416/106001.html). When an interstate
health certificate or certificate of veterinary inspection is required, it should contain the same rabies vaccination information as Form 51.
c. Areas with Dog-to-Dog Rabies Transmission.
The movement of dogs from areas with dog-to-dog rabies
transmission for the purpose of adoption or sale should be eliminated. Rabid dogs have been introduced into the United States from areas with dog-to-dog rabies transmission (15,16). This practice poses the risk of
introducing canine-transmitted rabies to areas where it does not
- Adjunct Procedures. Methods or procedures which
enhance rabies control include the following:
a. Identification. Dogs, cats, and ferrets should be identified (e.g., metal or plastic tags or microchips) to allow
for verification of rabies vaccination status.
b. Licensure. 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. Evidence of current vaccination
is an essential prerequisite to licensure.
c. Canvassing. House-to-house canvassing by animal control officials facilitates enforcement of vaccination
and licensure requirements.
d. Citations. 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 animal-control program.
e. Animal Control. All communities should incorporate stray animal control, leash laws, and training of personnel
in their programs.
- Postexposure Management. Any animal potentially
exposed to rabies virus (see Part I. 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.
a. 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. Rabies vaccine should be administered upon entry into isolation or 1 month prior to release to comply
with preexposure vaccination recommendations (see Part I.B.1.a.). Protocols for the postexposure vaccination
of previously unvaccinated domestic animals have not been validated, and evidence exists that the use of vaccine
alone will not prevent the disease (17). 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. Any illness in an isolated or confined animal should be reported immediately to the local health department.
b. Livestock. 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. Any illness in an animal under observation should be reported immediately to the local health department.
The following are recommendations for owners of livestock exposed to rabid animals:
1) If the animal is slaughtered within 7 days of
being bitten, its tissues may be eaten without risk of
infection, provided that liberal portions of the exposed area are discarded. Federal guidelines for meat inspectors require that any animal known to have been exposed to rabies within 8 months be rejected for slaughter.
2) Neither tissues nor milk from a rabid animal should be used for human or animal consumption
(18). Pasteurization temperatures will inactivate rabies
virus; therefore, drinking pasteurized milk or eating cooked meat does not constitute a rabies exposure.
3) Having more than one rabid animal in a herd or having herbivore-to-herbivore transmission is
uncommon; therefore, restricting the rest of the herd if a single animal has been exposed to or infected by rabies might not be necessary.
c. Other Animals. Other mammals 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. Dogs, Cats, and Ferrets. Rabies virus may be excreted in the saliva of infected dogs, cats, and ferrets during
illness and/or for only a few days prior to illness or death
(19--21). A healthy dog, cat, or ferret that bites a person
should be confined and observed daily for 10 days
(22); administration of rabies vaccine to the animal is not
recommended during the observation period to avoid confusing signs of rabies with possible side effects of vaccine
administration. 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 and the head shipped for testing as described in Part I.A.7. Any stray or unwanted dog, cat, or ferret that bites a person may be euthanized immediately and the head submitted for rabies examination.
b. Other Biting Animals. Other biting animals which might have exposed a person to rabies should
be reported immediately to the local health department. 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, the biting animal's history, current health status, and potential for exposure to rabies.
Prior vaccination of these animals may not preclude the necessity for euthanasia and testing.
C. Prevention and Control Methods Related to Wildlife.
The public should be warned not to handle or feed wild
mammals. 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 rabies vaccination, appropriate training, and continuing education. Translocation
of infected wildlife has contributed to the spread of rabies
(23,24); therefore, the translocation of known terrestrial
rabies reservoir species should be prohibited.
- Terrestrial Mammals. The use of licensed oral vaccines for the mass vaccination of free-ranging wildlife should
be considered in selected situations, with the approval of the state agency responsible for animal rabies control
(5). The distribution of oral rabies vaccine should be based on scientific assessments of the target species and followed by timely and appropriate analysis of surveillance data; such results should be provided to all stakeholders. In addition,
parenteral vaccination (trap-vaccinate-release) of wildlife rabies reservoirs may be integrated into coordinated oral rabies vaccination programs to enhance their effectiveness. Continuous and persistent programs for trapping or
poisoning wildlife are not effective in reducing wildlife rabies reservoirs on a statewide basis. However, limited population control in high-contact areas (e.g., picnic grounds, camps, suburban areas) may be indicated for the
removal of selected high-risk species of wildlife
(5). State agriculture, public health, and wildlife agencies should be consulted for
planning, coordination, and evaluation of vaccination or population-reduction programs.
- Bats. Indigenous rabid bats have been reported from every state except Hawaii and have caused rabies in at least
40 humans in the United States (25--29). Bats should be excluded from houses, public buildings, and adjacent structures to prevent direct association with humans
(30,31). Such structures should then be made bat-proof by sealing
entrances used by bats. Controlling rabies in bats through programs designed to
reduce bat populations is neither feasible nor desirable.
Part II: Recommendations for Parenteral Rabies Vaccination Procedures
A. Vaccine Administration. All animal rabies vaccines should be restricted to use by, or under the direct supervision of
a veterinarian (32) except as recommended in Part I.B.1. All vaccines must be administered in accordance with
the specifications of the product label or package insert.
B. Vaccine Selection. Part III 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. Any of the listed vaccines can be used for revaccination, even if the product is not the same brand previously administered. 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 (33). No laboratory or epidemiologic data exist to support the annual or biennial
administration of 3-year vaccines following the initial
C. Adverse Events. Currently, no epidemiologic association exists between a particular licensed vaccine product and
adverse events, including vaccine failure
(34,35). Adverse events should be reported to the vaccine manufacturer and to
USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Center for Veterinary Biologics (Internet:
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/cvb/ic/adverseeventreport.htm; telephone: 800-752-6255; or e-mail: CVB@usda.gov).
D. Wildlife and Hybrid Animal Vaccination. The safety and efficacy of parenteral rabies vaccination of wildlife and
hybrids have not been established, and no rabies vaccines are licensed for these animals. Parenteral vaccination
(trap-vaccinate-release) of wildlife rabies reservoirs may be integrated into coordinated oral rabies vaccination programs as described in Part I. C.1. to enhance their effectiveness. Zoos or research institutions may establish vaccination programs, which attempt
to protect valuable animals, but these should not replace appropriate public health activities that protect humans (9).
E. Accidental Human Exposure to Vaccine. Human exposure to parenteral animal rabies vaccines listed in Part III does
not constitute a risk for rabies infection. However, human exposure to vaccinia-vectored oral rabies vaccines should be reported to state health officials (36).
F. Rabies Certificate. All agencies and veterinarians should use NASPHV Form 51, Rabies Vaccination Certificate,
which can be obtained from vaccine manufacturers or from NASPHV(http://www.nasphv.org). It is also available from
CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/professional/professi.htm). The form must be completed in full and signed by
the administering or supervising veterinarian. Computer-generated forms containing the same
information are also acceptable.
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* The NASPHV Committee: Suzanne R. Jenkins, VMD, MPH, Co-Chair; Mira J. Leslie, DVM, MPH, Co-Chair; Michael Auslander, DVM, MSPH;
Lisa Conti, DVM, MPH; Paul Ettestad, DVM, MS; Faye E. Sorhage, VMD, MPH; and Ben Sun, DVM, MPVM.
Consultants to the Committee: Donna M. Gatewood, DVM, MS, Center for Veterinary Biologics, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); Ellen
Mangione, MD, MPH, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE); Lorraine Moule, National Animal Control Association (NACA); Greg Pruitt, Animal Health Institute; Charles E. Rupprecht, VMD, MS, PhD, CDC; John Schiltz, DVM, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA); Charles
V. Trimarchi, MS, New York State Health Department; and Dennis Slate, PhD, Wildlife Services, USDA.
This compendium has been endorsed by AVMA, CDC, CSTE, and NACA.
Corresponding author: Mira J. Leslie, DVM, MPH, Washington Department
of Health, Communicable Disease Epidemiology, 1610 NE 150th Street, MS K17-9, Shoreline, WA 98155-9701.
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