Titer testing may decrease need for yearly rabies vaccines

Titer testing may decrease need for yearly rabies vaccines

K-State researchers’ work may prevent unnecessary vaccinations in at-risk pets.
Sep 09, 2015
By dvm360.com staff

Researchers at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have modified a test that measures an animal’s immune response to the rabies virus, a change that could cost pet owners less money and could help reduce the number of yearly vaccines for pets, according to a university release.

The researchers say testing for titers—the antibodies capable of neutralizing rabies—is a valid indication of the animal’s resistance to the rabies virus. A measurement of 0.5 international units per milliliter or higher would indicate that the pet is protected and may only need a booster if exposed to the virus, depending on rabies regulations in the area, the release states.

All animals should be vaccinated with core vaccines and receive a yearly booster of those vaccines. But yearly vaccines can sometimes create other health concerns; for example, there is a link between yearly vaccinations and injection site sarcomas in cats. The K-State rabies titer test could keep a pet from experiencing an unnecessary injection at its yearly exam.

The test has not yet been accepted by national veterinary organizations as a standard for indicating a pet’s level of protection against rabies, but measuring titers is currently used for determining whether cats and dogs need a vaccination for other high-risk diseases, the release states.

"In both domestic cats and dogs, there is a positive correlation between rabies neutralizing antibody titers and the level of protection,” says Rolan Davis, MS, a researcher in the Kansas State University Rabies Laboratory. "We are certainly not against vaccinations; we are against rabies. We are looking for the best ways to prevent rabies in animals and humans."

Rabies vaccinations

It's hard to believe that some states are still requiring yearly Rabies vaccinations when there is overwhelming evidence that these vaccines last much longer than a year and quite possibly for the life of the pet. Titering is a good way to check on antibody status. I had my own titer run about 20 years after being vaccinated for Rabies in veterinary school and after 20 years still had a titer.

Thank you for posting this article. You might be interested in publishing something about the Rabies Challenge Fund in future publications. http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/

Annual vaccinations

I only vaccinate core every 3 years as do most veterinarians in my area.