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Current Trends Compendium of Animal Rabies Control, 1988 Prepared by: The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, Inc.*

Part I: Recommendations for Immunization Procedures

The purpose of these recommendations is to provide information on rabies vaccines to practicing veterinarians, public health officials, and others concerned with rabies control. This document will serve as the basis for animal rabies vaccination programs throughout the United States. Its adoption should result in standardization of procedures among jurisdictions, which is necessary for an effective national rabies control program. These recommendations are reviewed and revised as necessary prior to the beginning of each calendar year. All animal rabies vaccines licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and marketed in the United States are listed in Part II of the compendium. Part III describes the principles of rabies control.

  1. Vaccine Administration It is recommended that all animal rabies vaccines be restricted to

use by or under the supervision of a veterinarian. B. Vaccine Selection

In comprehensive rabies control programs, it is recommended that only vaccines with a 3-year duration of immunity be used. This practice eliminates the need for annual vaccination and constitutes the most effective method of increasing the proportion of immunized dogs and cats. (See Part II.) C. Route of Inoculation

Unless otherwise specified by the product label or package insert, all vaccines must be administered intramuscularly at one site in the thigh. D. Wildlife Vaccination

Vaccination of wildlife is not recommended since no rabies vaccine is licensed for use in wild animals and since there is no evidence that any vaccine will protect wild animals against rabies. It is recommended that neither wild nor exotic animals be kept as pets. Offspring born to wild animals bred with domestic dogs or cats are considered wild animals. E. Accidental Human Exposure to Vaccine

Accidental inoculation of individuals may occur during administration of animal rabies vaccine. Such exposure to inactivated vaccines constitutes no rabies hazard. No cases of rabies have resulted from needle or other exposure to a licensed modified live-virus vaccine in the United States. F. Identification of Vaccinated Dogs

It is recommended that all agencies and veterinarians adopt the standard tag system. This practice will aid the administration of local, state, national, and international procedures. Dog license tags should not conflict in shape and color with rabies tags. It is recommended that anodized aluminum rabies tags be no less than 0.064 inches in thickness.

  1. Rabies Tags.

Calendar Year Color Shape

1988 Red Heart 1989 Blue Rosette 1990 Orange Fireplug 1991 Green Bell 2. Rabies Certificate. All agencies and veterinarians should use the

National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) form #50, "Rabies Vaccination Certificate," which can be obtained from vaccine manufacturers. Part III: Principles of Rabies Control

These guidelines have been prepared by the NASPHV for use by government officials, practicing veterinarians, and others who may become involved in certain aspects of rabies control. It is intended that the NASPHV annually review and revise these recommendations as necessary. Standardized control procedures are needed to deal effectively with the public health aspects of rabies.

  1. Principles of Rabies Control

    1. 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 Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP), of the Public Health Service (1,2). 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.

    2. Domestic Animals. Local governments should initiate and maintain effective programs to remove strays and unwanted animals and to ensure vaccination of all dogs and cats. Since more cases of rabies are now reported annually among cats than among dogs, immunization of cats should be required. Such procedures in the United States have reduced laboratory-confirmed rabies cases in dogs from 6,949 in 1947 to 94 in 1986. The recommended vaccination procedures and the licensed animal vaccines are specified in Parts I and II of the NASPHV's annual compendium.

    3. Rabies in Wildlife. The control of rabies among foxes, skunks, raccoons, and other terrestrial animals is very difficult. Selective reduction of these populations when indicated may be useful, but the usefulness of this procedure depends heavily upon the circumstances surrounding each rabies outbreak. (See C. Control Methods in Wild Animals.) B. Control Methods in Domestic and Confined Animals

    4. Preexposure Vaccination and Management. Animal rabies vaccines should be administered only by or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian. Such administration is the only way to assure the public that the animal has been properly immunized. Within 1 month after vaccination, a peak rabies antibody titer is reached, and the animal can be considered immunized. (See Parts I and II for recommended vaccines and procedures.)

      1. Dogs and Cats. All dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies beginning at 3 months of age and should be revaccinated in accordance with Part II of this compendium.

      2. Livestock. It is not economically feasible, nor is it justified from a public health standpoint, to vaccinate all livestock against rabies. Owners of valuable animals and veterinary clinicians may consider immunizing certain livestock located in areas where wildlife rabies is epizootic or where colonies of bats exist.

      3. Other Animals. (1) Animals Maintained in Exhibits and in Zoological Parks. Captive

animals not completely excluded from all contact with local vectors of rabies can become infected with rabies. Moreover, such animals may be incubating rabies when captured. Exhibit animals, especially those carnivores and omnivores having contact with the viewing public, should be quarantined for a minimum of 180 days. Since no rabies vaccine is licensed for use in wild animals, vaccination even with inactivated vaccine is not recommended. Preexposure rabies vaccination of animal workers at such facilities is recommended. This practice may reduce the need for euthanasia of valuable animals for rabies testing after they have bitten a handler. (2) Wild Animals. Because of the existing risk of rabies in wild

animals (especially raccoons, skunks, and foxes), the American Veterinary Medical Association, the NASPHV, and the Conference of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) strongly recommend the enactment of state laws prohibiting the importation, distribution, and relocation of wild animals and wild animals crossbred with domestic dogs and cats. These same organizations continue to recommend the enactment of laws prohibiting the distribution or keeping of wild animals as pets. Moreover, the NASPHV and CSTE recommend that ferrets not be kept as pets since they have severely bitten many people and especially since their bites have mutilated infants. Ferrets are susceptible to rabies and could transmit it. Furthermore, the period of rabies virus shedding in infected ferrets is unknown. 2. Control of Stray Animals. Stray dogs or cats should be removed

from the community, especially in areas where rabies is epizootic. Local health department and animal control officials can enforce the pickup of strays more efficiently if owned animals are confined or kept on leash. Strays should be impounded for at least 3 days to give owners sufficient time to reclaim animals and to determine if human exposure has occurred. 3. Quarantine.

  1. International. Present Public Health Service regulations (42 CFR No. 71.51) governing the importation of domestic felines and canines are minimal for preventing the introduction of rabid animals into the United States. All dogs and cats imported from countries with endemic rabies should be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days before entry into the United States.** CDC is responsible for animals imported into the United States, and their requirements should be coordinated with interstate shipment requirements. The health authority of the state of destination should be notified of any animal conditionally admitted into its jurisdiction within 72 hours. The conditional admission into the United States of such animals must be subject to state and local laws governing rabies. Failure to comply with these requirements should be promptly reported to the director of CDC.

  2. Interstate. Prior to interstate shipment, dogs and cats should be vaccinated against rabies according to the compendium's recommendations and, preferably, should be vaccinated at least 30 days prior to shipment. While in shipment, they should be accompanied by a currently valid NASPHV Form #50, "Rabies Vaccination Certificate." One copy of the certificate should be mailed to the appropriate Public Health Veterinarian or State Veterinarian of the state of destination.

  3. Health Certificates. If a certificate is required for dogs and cats in transit, it must not replace the NASPHV rabies vaccination certificate. 4. Adjunct Procedures. Methods or procedures that enhance rabies

control include:

  1. Licensure. Registration or licensure of all dogs and cats controls the number of stray animals and may, thus, be used as a means of rabies control. Frequently a fee is charged for such licensure, and revenues collected are used to maintain a rabies or animal control program. Vaccination is usually recommended as a prerequisite to licensure.

  2. Canvassing of Area. Canvassing includes house-to-house calls by members of the animal control program to enforce vaccination and licensure requirements.

  3. Citations. Citations are legal summonses issued to owners for control program. Vaccination is usually recommended as a prerequisite to licensure.

  4. Canvassing of Area. Canvassing includes house-to-house calls by members of the animal control program to enforce vaccination and licensure requirements.

  5. Citations. Citations are legal summonses issued to owners for violations, including the failure to vaccinate or license their animals.

  6. Leash Laws. All communities should adopt leash laws that can be incorporated into their animal control ordinances. 5. Postexposure Management. ANY DOMESTIC ANIMAL THAT IS BITTEN OR


  1. Dogs and Cats. When bitten by a rabid animal, unvaccinated dogs and cats should be destroyed immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the unvaccinated animal should be placed in strict isolation for 6 months and vaccinated 1 month before being released. Dogs and cats that are currently vaccinated should be revaccinated immediately and observed by the owner for 90 days.

  2. Livestock. All species of livestock are susceptible to rabies infection; cattle appear to be among the most susceptible of all domestic animal species. Livestock known to have been bitten by rabid animals should be destroyed (slaughtered) immediately. If the owner is unwilling to have this done, the animal should be kept under very close observation for 6 months. 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 liberal portions of the exposed area are discarded. Federal meat inspectors will reject for slaughter any animal that has been exposed to rabies within 8 months. (2) No tissues or secretions from a clinically rabid animal should be

used for human or animal consumption. However, since pasteurization temperatures will inactivate rabies virus, the drinking of pasteurized milk or eating of completely cooked meat does not constitute a rabies exposure. 6. Management of Animals That Bite Humans. A healthy dog or cat that

bites a person should be confined and observed for 10 days and evaluated by a veterinarian at the first sign of illness during confinement or before release. Any illness in the animal should be reported immediately to the local health department. If signs suggestive of rabies develop, the animal should be humanely killed, and its head should be removed and shipped, under refrigeration, for examination by a qualified laboratory designated by the local or state health department. Any stray or unwanted dog or cat that bites a person can be killed immediately; the head should be submitted, as described above, for rabies examination. C. Control Methods in Wild Animals

Bats and wild carnivorous mammals (as well as wild animals crossbred with domestic dogs and cats) that bite people should be killed, and appropriate tissues should be sent to the laboratory for examination for rabies. A person bitten by a bat or any wild animal should immediately report the incident to a physician who can evaluate the need for antirabies treatment. (See current rabies prophylaxis recommendations of the ACIP (1,2).)

  1. Terrestrial Mammals. Continuous and persistent government-funded programs for trapping or poisoning wildlife as a means of rabies control are not cost- effective in reducing wildlife reservoirs or rabies incidence on a statewide basis. However, limited control in high-contact areas (picnic grounds, camps, suburban areas) may be indicated for the removal of selected high-risk species of wild animals. The public should be warned not to handle wild animals. The state wildlife agency should be consulted early to manage any elimination programs in coordination with the state health department.

  2. Bats. Rabid bats have been reported from every state except Hawaii and have caused human rabies infections in the United States. It is neither feasible nor practical, however, to control rabies in bats by areawide programs to reduce bat populations. Bats should be eliminated from houses and surrounding structures to prevent direct association with people. Such structures should then be made bat proof by sealing routes of entrance with screen or by other means.


  1. Immunization Practices Advisory Committee. Rabies prevention--United States, 1984. MMWR 1984;33:393-402,407-8.

  2. Immunization Practices Advisory Committee. Rabies prevention: supplementary statement on the preexposure use of human diploid cell rabies vaccine by the intradermal route. MMWR 1986;35:767-8. *THE NASPHV COMPENDIUM COMMITTEE: R. Keith Sikes, DVM, MPH, Chairman; Russell W. Currier, DVM, MPH; Suzanne Jenkins, VMD, MPH; Russell J. Martin, DVM, MPH; Grayson B. Miller, Jr., MD; F. T. Satalowich, DVM, MSPH; James M. Shuler, DVM, MPH. CONSULTANTS TO THE COMMITTEE: Melvin K. Abelseth, DVM, PhD, New York State Department of Health; Kenneth L. Crawford, DVM, MPH; Thomas R. Eng, VMD, MPH, Centers for Disease Control; David A. Espeseth, DVM, Veterinary Biologics Staff, APHIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Paul Waters, Representative, Veterinary Biologics Section, Animal Health Institute. ENDORSED BY: Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists; AVMA Council on Public Health and Regulatory Veterinary Medicine. **In regard to cats, these recommendations do not conform to the official recommendations of CDC and the Public Health Service. Although domestic feline rabies has increased, there has been no evidence of increased risk of imported rabies in cats. U.S. Foreign Quarantine regulations do not require rabies vaccinations for imported cats.

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