05 April 2015

Cats: Exposure to Rabies

One of the most contentious topics in any cat group is the subject of vaccines and whether are not to vaccinate.  Often someone will remark that they have to vaccinate because of the local law.  Some people are unaware that the requirement for rabies vaccination depends on the locality.  Where I live, rabies vaccinations are required by county law for dogs only.  I have friends who live in areas where rabies vaccinations are also required for cats.  The variation in requirements depends in large part on the incidence of rabies in wildlife in an area.

Please keep in mind that the rabies vaccine is NOT for the health of the dog or cat, but to protect humans from the rabies.  This article, Rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis, by M. Gayne Fearneyhough, BS, DVM (p 557-572 in Vol 31, No 3, Vet. Cl. of NA: Small Animal Practice, May 2001) looks at the treatment of humans after they have been bitten by a potential rabid animal.  As I do not particularly care about human medicine, this is a very brief summary.

One statement of interest in this article is "many parts of the western United States are free of terrestrial rabies", which, if you look at the 2010 CDC map for rabies infections in dogs and cats, my area, southern CA, has no cases (despite heavy testing) whereas a state like Pennsylvania is solid yellow in the east.  This explains why my Eastern friends are so adamant about rabies vaccines and here it's a minor concern.

The chart below is the decision tree recommended for humans:

Perhaps the most interesting section had to do with post-exposure treatment in domestic animals.  I have lived under the assumption that if a cat was bitten, that was a death sentence.  Apparently not.  At least 2 studies, one of 713 animals and another of 632 animals (dogs, cats, cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, and 1 llama) were treated.  The first study had a 99.7% survived and 99.5% in the second.  So, yes, a cat bitten by a rabid animal CAN be successfully treated. The main problem mentioned is that the animal may survive but may not be free of rabies. I would think a second problem is to find a place that would quarantine the cat and provide treatment for several weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I arrived here while searching for info about Uva Ursi toxicity. I saw your comments on another site. I would like to share with you that while Uva Ursi finally cleared a kidney infection the vet and I had been fighting in my older Cornish REx, it wasn't without side effects.

I had a knee replacement and was away from the cat for 9 days. When I reconnected, I found her in a terrible state of dehydration with signs of dried vomit around her bed. Prior to that I was assured she was eating and drinking well. There is more to the poor care story, but the point is that she was overdosed on the uva ursi. Her kidneys are now great, but her liver is in a sad state with an infection as well. She currently is at the vet and greatly improved after receiving copious fluids.

The moral to the story is that the naturopathic medicines like any mainstream medicines can be extremely toxic if not administered carefully. It is always prudent to be mindful of the sensitivity that cats have to the substances in the world at large.

I would use Uva Ursi again, however, I would be extremely careful in making sure the instructions were followed to the letter. I would be very cautious about using a reputable source as well. Primelex was my source. I do not fault them for what happened. They have several cautions about length and amount of dosing.