Saturday, 03 February 2018 15:10

Porky & Buddy Column: Do I Really Need to Vaccinate My Pet Against Rabies?

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Dear Porky and Buddy: I am so annoyed. I took my new cat to a veterinarian for the first time and she told me that I have to have her vaccinated against rabies. Doesn’t she know that rabies vaccinations cause cancer? Esmerelda never goes outside so why would I expose her to a known cancer risk to avoid a non-existent rabies risk? This is just more government interference in our personal lives and it has to STOP. What do you think? Are you as outraged as I am? Signed, Joan

Dear Joan,

We are outraged to be sure but at you, not with you. First of all, rabies vaccines are required by law for all cats and dogs over the age of four months in New York State and many other states have similar requirements. Exceptions can be made for pets for whom the vaccine may have an adverse health effect, but fear of cancer is not an adverse health effect,

Dying from rabies is an adverse health effect, don’t you think? It is a lethal disease for people or any other mammal exposed through a bite or scratch to the saliva of a rabid animal. While, thanks to our government’s interference (otherwise known as the Public Health Law), very few people die of rabies in the United States, up to 50,000 per year die from it in less well-regulated countries.

Keeping her indoors is no excuse. You hear stories about rabid raccoons breaking through screens and coming indoors, and it's quite common for bats, which have a high incidence of rabies, to find their way indoors. Don’t tell us that Esmerelda wouldn’t think of a rabid bat as just another very fun toy. And if she is bitten by a rabid animal, your choices are to have her euthanized or to have her quarantined for six months in a veterinary hospital. Both alternatives would be horrible for her and the second would be very expensive for you.

If she is bitten, there are no preventative after the fact shots for unvaccinated animals like there are for humans. But vaccinated animals who are exposed to a rabid animal, can just simply get a rabies booster and a 10- to 45-day quarantine at home.

And what if Esmerelda bites someone? Don’t pretend that she would never do that. Bite wounds treated by a physician are usually reported to the health department, which may then request proof of rabies vaccination. If the owner can't provide this proof, again there may be a recommendation that she be euthanized and tested for rabies, especially if she was ill; or a a six month period of quarantine.

Is there a risk of cancer from vaccinations for cats? We asked our friends at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine and here, in a nut shell, is what they said:

“In very rare cases (1-10 of every 10,000 vaccines administered), cats can have allergic reactions to vaccines.

If a swelling near a vaccination site persists for more than three weeks or begins to grow, contact a veterinarian immediately. Such persistent reaction could be a sign of a type of cancer called feline injection site sarcoma (FISS). These rare tumors are believed to result from inflammation associated with vaccination, and can occur up to 10 years after vaccination in some cats.

Keep in mind that for the average cat, the benefits of an appropriate vaccination program far outweigh the potential risks associated with vaccination.”

We added the emphasis. So please Joan, go back to your vet, get Esmerelda all the vaccines she needs and enjoy a long happy stress-free life with her. There are lots of other things that you can find to be annoyed about that won’t put Esmerelda at risk.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Located at 29 West Seneca Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 2,07-1070. Email: [email protected] Website: Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.

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