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Rabies Challenge Fund


© Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

Janice Gessner

On December 10, 2005, Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation donated $5,000 for rabies vaccination research. On June 9, 2008, another $500 was donated.

Rabies vaccination is the one immunization required by law across the country for domestic dogs and cats. Researchers believe this vaccine causes the most and worst adverse reactions in animals. The Rabies Challenge Fund has been founded to improve the safety of rabies vaccines and to determine, by challenge, if they confer immunity for 5 or 7 years.

World-renowned vaccine research scientist and practicing veterinarian, Dr. W. Jean Dodds of California, and pet vaccine disclosure advocate, Kris L. Christine of Maine, have established The Rabies Challenge Fund to raise money to fund concurrent 5 and 7 year canine rabies vaccine challenge studies. The research will require at least a million dollars to cover the cost of conducting both a five-year and seven-year controlled study.

In addition to the challenge studies, the fund will finance a study of the adjuvants (preservatives) used in veterinary rabies vaccines and establish a rabies vaccine adverse reaction reporting system.

As rabies vaccines are known to elicit severe and even fatal adverse reactions, and are among the strongest vaccines antigenically and contain potent adjuvants to bolster their immunologic effect, giving them more often than truly needed is unwise, unnecessary, and can be unsafe,” Dodds said.

“To date, most states require rabies vaccination every three years, but some states still require annual rabies revaccination, even though the USDA licenses these vaccines for three years, according to Dodds.

Dr. Dodds is a member of the Board of the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation. Dr. Dodds received the D.V.M. degree with honors in 1964 from the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Toronto. In 1965 she joined the New York State Health Department in Albany and began comparative studies of animals with inherited and acquired bleeding diseases. Her position there began as a Research Scientist and culminated as the chief of Laboratory of Hematology at the Wadsworth Center. In 1980 she also became Executive Director of the New York State Council on Human Blood and Transfusion Services. This work continued full-time until 1986 when she moved to Southern California to establish Hemopet, the first non-profit national blood bank program for animals. We are indeed fortunate to have Dr. Dodds as a Board member of the Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation.

“Certainly, veterinarians are aware of the adverse reactions that can occur after rabies and other vaccinations in dogs and cats,” Dodds said. “The public is the body most motivated to address the issues here, because it is some of their beloved companions that have suffered by the existing regulations.”

A challenge study involves control groups and “challenging” the dogs, after five or seven years from the time of a rabies vaccine, with live virus. French researchers in 1992 conducted challenge studies and found dogs were still immune after five years. However, this research is not accepted in the U.S.

Other beneficial research to be conducted as part of the challenge study will be into the safety of adjuvants, used to enhance the immune response in veterinary rabies vaccines. Some, like Kris Christine, think the adjuvants may cause more adverse reactions in the pets than the actual vaccine “Unlike human vaccines where all adjuvants are required to be the same, there is no such standardization in veterinary medicine.” Hopefully, Christine said, this study can be completed before the five and seven years of the parallel challenge studies, to make vaccines safer.

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Question of the Week

Previous Questions of the Week Ideas

Today is October 21, 2016

In this month in 1996:

The KBT makes it on the US TV quiz show Jeopardy: "One story of the Kerry Blue Terrier is that it originated from a dog who swam ashore from a shipwreck in 1588 off the coast of Ireland. True of False?" Surprisingly, the contestants knew the answer.

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The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation is a nonprofit charity dedicated to promoting the welfare of the Kerry Blue Terrier breed in the areas of education, rescue and health & genetics. Learn More.


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