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April 14, 2008
To the Editor:
There are a number of issues in the April 12, 2008 article entitled Changes to Vaccine Ordinance Unlikely that need to be addressed.
The state veterinarian, Dr. Walter Cook, seems to be unaware that the national organization of which he is supposed to be a member, the Center for Disease Control’s CDC, National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV), currently recommends a 3 year rabies vaccination protocol in their 2008 Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control and has done so since at least 2001. The American Veterinary Medical Association also endorses the NASPHV’s 3 year rabies immunization protocol.
Contrary to Dr. Cook’s statement, veterinarians are not required to report adverse reactions to vaccines and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) stated in 2007 there is “gross under-reporting of vaccine-associated adverse events which impedes knowledge of the ongoing safety of these products.” In an article entitled, A New Approach to Reporting Medication and Device Adverse Effects and Product Problems, (JAMA - June 2, 1993. Vol.269, No.21) Dr. David Kessler, former head of the Food & Drug Administration, reported that "only about 1% of serious events are reported to the ."
Studies demonstrating long-term (more than 3 years) duration of immunity for the canine rabies vaccine have already been published. In 1992, a French research team led by Michel Aubert published the results of a rabies challenge study in Scientific Technical Review (Rev. sci.tech. Off. int. Epiz.) 1992, 11 (3), 735-760 in which they demonstrated that dogs were immune to a rabies challenge 5 years after vaccination. The serological studies of Dr. Ronald Schultz of the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine showed that dogs had antibody titers counts at levels known to confer immunity to rabies 7 years after vaccination, the results of which have been incorporated into the 2003, 2006 American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Vaccine Guidelines as well as WSAVA’s 2007 Vaccine Guidelines.
Because the rabies vaccine is the most potent of the veterinary vaccines and associated with significant adverse reactions, it should not be given more often than is necessary to maintain immunity. Adverse reactions such as 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 linked to rabies vaccinations.
Rabies is a “killed” vaccine and contains adjuvants to enhance the immunological response. Mercury (Thimersol) is commonly found as a preservative in killed, adjuvanted veterinary vaccines such as Rabies, Leptospira, and Lyme. The combination of mercury with adjuvant components (aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate) are of considerable concern because of the reactive properties of aluminum, when in contact with mercury. Reactivity with aluminum is so acute that mercury may not be packed in checked or carry-on baggage on commercial airplanes, and there is currently a petition to Congress Petition to Congress, Removal of Aluminum Additive in Vaccines Resolution and Petition, citing as cause for removing aluminum in human vaccines that: "The combination of mercury plus aluminum is far worse than the sum of the two toxicities added together. The synergistic toxicity could be increased to unknown levels."
In 1999, the " classified veterinary vaccine adjuvants as Class III/IV carcinogens with Class IV being the highest risk," 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 was first observed by Hendrick & Dunagan (1992).” According to the 2003 American Animal Hospital Association’s Canine Vaccine Guidelines, "...killed vaccines are much more likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., immune-mediated disease)."
A clarification on the Postmarketing Surveillance of Rabies Vaccines for Dogs to Evaluate Safety and Efficacy referenced in the story. Only the 246 adverse reactions to the rabies vaccine reported directly to the Center for Veterinary Biologics by the public, veterinarians, and pet owners had 72% of the dogs receiving other vaccines or drugs at the same time as the rabies shot. That is not stated to be the case further on in the report where they discuss the 10,000 adverse reactions reported by the , 65% of which were in dogs.
If the 6,500 of canine adverse reported by the vaccine manufacturers represents "only about 1% of serious events are reported to the ,” then that would translate into 650,000 if all reactions were reported.
Mayor Jack Spiker and State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Cook, should be guided by the recommendations of the ’s National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and the American Veterinary Medical Association to determine the state’s and city’s rabies immunization protocols rather than seeking the advice of local animal shelters and veterinary practitioners to determine appropriate protocols.
Kris L. Christine
THE RABIES CHALLENGE FUND