Saturday, November 24, 2012
What I know - Rabies & Vaccines..
Recently I have been reading more and more about Rabies..
As someone who has made the controversial decision to stop vaccinating my cats, this subject interests me a great deal. There was an article in my local newspaper about incidences of rabies in the area. That scared me more than anything else, because if it is "in my back yard" than my cat's risk is greater. But all of my cats have been vaccinated in the past, and they are indoor only (and show almost no interest in going out - if I leave the door open for an extended period they'll investigate but they are too afraid of being shut out to go far) so I think my risk is minimized.
Then I read this blog post* by Dr. Ernie Ward a vet (I am assuming a DVM, but it does not specifically say on his website) and a triathlete and TV show personality. This post scared me even more. It is the story of an indoor only kitty who became rabid. It bit the owners, so they had to go through rabies treatment. The kitty had apparently had the vaccine in the past but was currently not up to date.
Talk about frightening.
The added graphic showing that the incidents of rabies in cats and dogs in 2008 & 2009 seemed to highlight the dangers of rabies for cats.. as 75-80 dogs and around 300 cats were infected.
But the thing is..
There is no context to these stats. Did you know there are 86.4 million owned cats and an estimated 70 million more that are homeless? (some how I find it a good thing there are more cats owned than are not)
So the incidents of rabies in cats is minute. Even if we are talking just the owned cats being responsible for that 300 number then we are talking 0.000004% of the population. or 1 in ever 288,000 cats being at risk. That number may be higher or lower depending on the incidents of rabies in your area. Prior to the reports, there were only a handful of rabid animals reported in my state, and all were found hundreds of miles from my home.
Did you know the incidence of Vaccine Associated Sarcoma is as low as 1 in every 1,000 cats? I've seen 1:5,000 and 1:10,000. Even if we went with the highest ratio the odds of getting VAS are almost 30x greater than getting the disease. (and 300x if you go with the lowest number)
Now granted, VAS is associated with all vaccines, FELV in particular so these numbers are probably a little skewed as I can not adjust for "rabies vaccine incidents only"
The whole reason I'm posting this though, is because that original post didn't even MENTION that there is a darn good reason to consider not giving vaccines. VAS is not the only adverse reaction.
I think we should all know the risks of the choices we make for our kitties..
*Update 2015: That blog post was removed by Dr. Ward. Other posts from the time frame are still up, but not this one. Science has also shown that animals in which the rabies vaccine they have been given was expired do just fine after an exposure if a booster shot is given.