WEST VIRGINIA Rabies Law-- Action Alert
On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund www.RabiesChallengeFund.org and pet owners in West Virginia, I have sent the letter below in an effort to change the state's 2 year rabies booster law to the national 3 year standard.
What You Can Do to Help:
Contact your legislators and ask them to introduce a bill changing the 2 year 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.
West Virginia Legislature: Senate http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Senate1/members/senmemview.cfm# House http://www.legis.state.wv.us/House/members/delmemview1.cfm (this link will assist you in finding your legislators) A full e-mail list of West Virginia's Senators and Delegates is at the bottom of this post.
Contact the State Veterinarian, Dr. Gary Kinder at (304) 558-2214 Ext. 4640 Cell Phone: 546-9560 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Attorney General Darrell McGraw Phone: (304) 558-2021 email@example.com
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Letter to West Virginia State Veterinarian and Attorney General
January 7, 2010
Dr. Gary Kinder, State Veterinarian Attorney General Darrell McGraw
Department of Agriculture Animal Health Division State Capitol Complex
1900 Kanawha Blvd. NE Bldg. 1, Room E-26
Charleston, WV 25305 Charleston, WV 25305
RE: VACCINATION OF DOGS AND CATS - West Virginia Code Chapter 19 Article 20 §19-20A-2
Dear Dr. Kinder and General McGraw:
On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund and West Virginia pet owners, I am writing to alert you to the fact that West Virginia’s rabies regulations (Code Chapter 19, Article 20 §19-20A-2, Vaccination of Dogs and Cats) requiring that dogs and cats be “properly vaccinated or immunized against rabies with a vaccine capable of producing immunity for two years and shall every second year thereafter have such dog or cat revaccinated with a vaccine capable of producing immunity for two years" is contrary to the recommendations of all the national veterinary medical associations as well as the labeled specifications of all rabies vaccines licensed by the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Center for Disease Control’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarian's (NASPHV) Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control 2008 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.” Also endorsing the NASPHV’s Rabies Compendium are the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).
Requiring West Virginia’s pet owners to pay for medically unnecessary rabies vaccinations at least every 24 months, from which their animal derive no benefit, raises ethical and legal issues which may violate the state’s consumer protection laws as well as the Veterinarians Practice Act (Article 10) when veterinarians are compelled to administer 3 year vaccines (there are no 2 year rabies vaccines licensed by the USDA), off-label every 2 years in order for their clients to comply with state law.
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]." 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.” Auto-immune hemolytic anemia, 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.   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 in 2005, the risk of an allergic reaction has been documented to "increase after the third or fourth injection of a vaccine (ie, a booster response) " and is "inversely related to a dog's weight," indicating that West Virginia's scientifically unfounded 2 year rabies protocol exposes its domestic dogs, especially small breeds and puppies, to unnecessary potential harm by mandating medically redundant rabies boosters.
The labels on rabies vaccines state that they are for “the vaccination of healthy cats, dogs…,” and there are medical conditions for which vaccination can jeopardize the life or well-being of an animal. A medical exemption clause inserted into the new 3 year Rabies Law being considered would allow veterinarians to write waivers for animals for whom medical conditions preclude vaccination. The State of Maine inserted such an exemption into the 3 year rabies protocol, 7 M.R.S.A., Sec. 3922(3), it adopted in 2004 as follows:
A. A letter of exemption from vaccination may be submitted for licensure, if a medical reason exists that precludes the vaccination of the dog. Qualifying letters must be in the form of a written statement, signed by a licensed veterinarian, that includes a description of the dog, and the medical reason that precludes vaccination. If the medical reason is temporary, the letter shall indicate a time of expiration of the exemption.
B. A dog exempted under the provisions of paragraph 5 A, above, shall be considered unvaccinated, for the purposes of 10-144 C.M.R. Ch.251, Section 7(B)(1), (Rules Governing Rabies Management) in the case of said dog’s exposure to a confirmed or suspect rabid animal.
The Rabies Challenge Fund strongly urges the state to amend West Virginia Code Chapter 19, Article 20 §19-20A-2 Vaccination of Dogs and Cats, to conform to the national standard set by the CDC’s NASPHV’s Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control and respectfully requests that medical exemption language be inserted into the law.
Kris L. Christine
THE RABIES CHALLENGE FUND
More information and regular updates on The Rabies Challenge Fund and the concurrent 5 and 7 year challenge studies it is financing can be found at the fund’s website designed by volunteer Andrea Brin at:
The information contained on this site is in no way intended to replace that of proper veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment.
It is meant to provide resource, so that we can better understand canine health related issues.