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Immunizations for Rabies Fail; Firm Urges Reinoculating Pets

September 17, 1987|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The manufacturer of the best-selling brand of rabies vaccine has urged veterinarians to reinoculate dogs given the vaccine because it may not protect them against the disease.

No one knows how many dogs are affected, but the manufacturer, Norden Laboratories of Lincoln, Neb., says it has about one-third of the national market. Maryland health officials, who Wednesday urged dog owners to heed notices from their veterinarians, estimate that between 400,000 and 800,000 dogs in that state alone may have received defective immunizations.

Dogs who got the injections into a muscle are not at risk. But subcutaneous injections, given just under the skin, failed a test.

The two vaccines manufactured by Norden--Endurall-K, said to be good for one year, and Rabguard-TC, a three-year version--had proved effective for intramuscular injection. In 1985, Norden got provisional government approval to tell veterinarians they could also use the subcutaneous method.

Last month, subcutaneously injected dogs, which preliminary tests had shown to have antibodies against rabies, were exposed to the viruses and about half got the disease. The dogs most at risk are those that had never before been vaccinated and have received only one dose since July, 1985.

The company has advised veterinarians to stop giving the subcutaneous vaccinations to cats also.

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