Is your pet’s rabies vaccine current? (Part III of Rabies 101)

It is very important to know when your pet’s rabies vaccine is considered currentCurrently vaccinated against rabies “describes the animal that has received a primary rabies vaccine at least 28 days ago, or has received a booster vaccine administered in accordance with the rabies manufacturer’s guidelines and is within the vaccine’s duration of immunity for that particular species”.

A dog or cat is considered unvaccinated if it has never had a rabies vaccine administered or if there is no evidence of a prior vaccine-neither a rabies certificate or veterinary records are available.  However, it is important to note that when an animal receives its primary vaccination against rabies, the animal is NOT considered currently vaccinated AND protected against rabies exposure until 28 days after the initial vaccination. (NCGS 130A-197)  Owners should be advised to keep their animals under close supervision at all times during that period, particularly to prevent exposures to wildlife or other animals that may transmit rabies or other diseases.  If a previously vaccinated animal is overdue for a booster, it should be revaccinated without delay.  Immediately after the booster, the immune system has a rapid “memory” response and the animal is considered currently vaccinated.

When a dog or cat bites a human, regardless of the vaccination status, the animal should be placed in a 10 day confinement by animal control (NCGS 130A-196).  If the animal is not currently vaccinated, then it should not be vaccinated until the confinement period is completed.  Vaccinations are not advised during the confinement period because an adverse or unusual reaction could be misinterpreted as clinical signs of rabies and result in the unnecessary euthanasia of the animal.

(Taken from NC Department of Public Health.)